Living with Cerebral Palsy 🍋🍋

Thursday, 31 October 2019

A magic celebration

I’ve blogged many times about how much I love Autumn. Part of the reason for that is because it contains Halloween. I have always loved Halloween, I’m not even sure why. Maybe it sprang from a childhood obsession with “The Worst Witch” (books and film equally) or maybe it’s because the decade I grew up in, the 1980’s, was when Halloween really started to take off as a ‘thing’ in this country and anything that came from America and was mentioned in my "Babysitter's Club" and "Judy Blume" books was by default, exciting.  By 'taking off as a thing' I don’t mean fancy costumes readily available in every supermarket, extravagant decorations everywhere you go and picking your own pumpkins in those stunningly instagrammable fields that every garden centre now boasts at this time of year. I mean making your own witches costume from a heavy duty bin bag, begging your Dad to whittle you a broomstick from a tree branch and getting a buzz from coming home in the dark after dancing up a sweat to “Thriller” and “Ghostbusters” at the Halloween disco in the school hall.  There is something tremendously nostalgic about Halloween for me and that’s before you factor in my morbid fascination with anything supernatural . Maybe I also love it because it coincides with the clocks changing, the advent of Winter and dark, cold nights, coal fires and an overall sense of cosiness the Scandinavians wholeheartedly embrace as a way of life called  ‘Hygge’ (perhaps I can blame my scandi paternal bloodline-my maiden name is Erlandson- for my adoration of Autumn and Winter?)
Like anything I adore, or get excited about, I want to share it with Elin. Like anything I want to share with Elin, I can’t. Not in the conventional sense of ways I see other parents enjoying with their children in any case. Trick or treat is meaningless to Elin. So is “The Worst Witch” and all the other things that make Halloween meaningful to me.
A couple of times, a few years ago, I tried to force my version of Halloween. It’s not until you are pushing a dystonic Elin through the cold damp streets trick or treating for things she can’t eat that you realise, with true horror, what you have always known. Elin’s experiences cannot be based on what you wish they could be, or what will make a cute photograph for the album. Her life experiences have to be based only on what is meaningful to her. Anything else is selfish, understandable-yes, well meaning- yes, but ultimately selfish. It’s a bitter pill to swallow (I still find watching other children experience common celebrations like Halloween in the regular way difficult. I don't expect that will ever go away) but since the very essence of parenting is sacrifice, it’s a no brainer. I am ashamed now, of the times over the years I may have forced experiences on her that she wasn’t going to enjoy, just so I could experience them as a Mum, but only time could bring this revelation to my door and only time could make me ready to accept it.  This epiphany is joining my list of 'things that have become easier to deal with' as the last eleven years have passed by.
Today, with Paul in London until tomorrow helping Elin’s big sister move into her new flat, Elin and I had an appropriately “Hygge” Halloween. We wrapped up and went for a crisp Autumnal walk before the sunshine disappeared. When we got home we blew up some light-up Halloween balloons to bat around (Elin finds balloons hilarious), we drew the curtains and played with our ghost-shaped fairy lights and glow in the dark glowsticks and bangles. We listened to Halloween music (thanks Amazon). We toasted marshmallows (Elin licked them and DEFINITELY enjoyed!), we cuddled up and watched the animated “Hotel Transylvania” together on the iPad and we read “Meg and Mog” before bed. It wasn’t what I had in mind when I imagined celebrating my love of Halloween with a pre-teen daughter.
But it was perfect.
As I flipped the calendar tonight I realised during all the naval gazing about Halloween today I had somehow managed to forget this now means we are in to November. This brings another celebration. Not for anyone else this time though, for us. The end of October marks four full years since Elin was admitted to hospital for anything.  Not one overnight stay since October 2015. Wow. I would have given my right arm for that when Elin was a baby. I never would have believed it was possible. So that, above the traditions and the costumes and the trick or treating and the pumpkin patches and what we do and don’t do, THAT, then, it turns out, is the true magic of our Halloween and we are so, so grateful for it.
Have a spooktacular time, folks.
xxxx
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