Halloween, and the Fall in general, was always my favourite time of year. Cosy layers of my Dad’s old cashmere and my mom’s Cowichan sweaters. Brilliant colours of red and yellow maple leaves set against a crisp blue sky. Freshly picked Macintosh apples with gooey Kraft caramels. The smell of wood burning fireplaces and maple and rosemary in buttered yams. Mmmmm. What’s not to love?… and Halloween, which is rooted in ancient Gaelic tradition called Samhuin literally meaning the “end of summer”. It is a time when the veil separating the worlds of the living and dead softens and the dead can cross over. The only way to keep your milk from going sour or from getting a wart, it is said, is to disguise yourself like the dead or demons to avoid their attention.
I love disguise and Halloween so much that I opened a costume business, FeeFiFoFun, in 2010. Most people I meet believe that costumes are just for Halloween. They are surprised when they find their way back to me desperately needing a costume piece for a birthday gift, a business event, but mostly for their children’s school performances.
Every day for the past four years I have lived and breathed the business of costume play. It starts with the Halloween & Party Show every January. There I walk miles of corridors displaying bright balloons and party table wear, gory Halloween decor and tall smiling half naked girls who are modeling the costume trends their manufacturers believe will be profitable for me. Stock arrives weekly throughout August and September allowing me time to organize for the frantic last two weeks in October when every child changes their mind and all the Halloween business happens.
The rest of the year does pale in comparison to my Halloween sales, but I’m amazed still at the abrupt transitions into Christmas, New Years, the School Year and Fan Conventions. Like a switch on and off.
I wake up at 3:30 a.m. every day with my mind full of ideas and my heart racing with worry and excitement. This is normal I understand from my Mom Biz Coaches Lara and Sheila. Normal for entrepreneurs whose perfectionism and incredible passion clashes with our sense of self preservation. In my case, my sleepless night’s are also the drive to find meaning in my life.
My father, mother and little sister Jo died all died around my birthday in September 1994, 2004 and 2007 respectively. Cancer sucks. I’ve pretty much let this ruin the Fall for me. It came into sharp contrast when last Halloween a neighbour came to the door with his two children after the pumpkin light was put out. I thought, how rude, but then he remarked, “We thought, you being in the costume business, that your place would be the one all dressed up and out til the wee hours.”
He was right. I’d spent so much time on others costumes and decor that I had little energy left for myself. I had ruined Halloween. I love my work, but I was exhausted. Then came my granddaughter and at four she is now able to share all of her innocence and wonder with me about dress up and Halloween.
I’m not there yet. I’m still struggling, but the mindfulness of finding meaning in every day life and watching my granddaughter is helping me slowly get back to loving the Fall and Halloween.