There is something about the rustling of rust colored leaves swirling in a cool autumn breeze that makes us feel closer to our most spooky selves. Traditionally, autumn is a time of harvest and a goodbye to long days of sunshine. Throughout history, many cultures developed customs that honored their ancestors and warded off evil that may lay ahead in the cold dead of winter. Autumn and all of its richness is a favorite of mine. I love finding ways to celebrate and enjoy the season. As I am known to say, if you want to get the most out of something as a chronically ill or disabled person, it is imperative that you plan ahead. Below are some ways to celebrate, options to consider, and information to help you get the most out of the spooky season.
One tradition that we have borrowed from cultures throughout history is the idea of dressing in costume to ward off evil spirits. This tradition is now a heavily commercialized, store-bought-polyester item on our to-do list, especially if we have little ones or are headed to a party. While costume finding can be fun for most children, it can be difficult for those who have physical limitations. Target, Party City, and HalloweenCostumes.com all have an adaptive line of costumes. Disney also has options for accessible costumes for children. Adaptive and accessible options for adults are a little harder to come by. Pinterest has some fun ideas for those who like to DIY. Whether you want to go all out or just throw the old witch hat on, the point of Halloween costumes are to have fun. Make it your own, and enjoy the season!
Haunted Gatherings and Spooky Parties
When the air turns cool and the sights get spooky, people enjoy gathering and partying to revel in the darker side of the season. Years ago, friends and I would host Halloween parties and decorate every room in the house. One year, we even hired an actor for one of the rooms (we took Halloween seriously). If you enjoy those nights of revelry and mayhem, your best bet at a thrilling time is to... you guessed it, plan ahead. This could mean being well hydrated before an evening out or ensuring that your event or gathering space has places to take a break. This will ultimately call for you to use your "spoons" wisely. If you are not familiar with this concept, spoon theory is a concept coined by writer Christine Miserandino who explained that having lupus impacts her ability to perform daily and routine tasks. She equated her energy stores to a number of "spoons" given to us each day (you can read more about the theory here). This is all to say that you will need to consider how to use your limited energy to be able to "afford" a night out. This may look like taking it easy in the days leading up to and after the event. Chronically ill and disabled bodies are anything but predictable, so don't be upset or feel guilty if you miss the event anyways. Remember to always give yourself grace!
Trick.... or Treat?
I remember being little and hearing stories about how parents needed to check their children's Halloween candy to make sure it contained nothing harmful. While I am sure this is probably still good practice, it makes me think about what we give out and if what we hand out is the most accessible. I am all for handing out candy (my mom is known as the "Full-Sized Candy House" in her neighborhood), but there are some really great alternatives out there for those who are looking for inclusive and accessible ways to celebrate Trick-or-Treat. Stickers, toys, and small fidget devices are a great way to be inclusive and food-safe during Trick-or-Treat. Some candies are also free of the "big 6" allergens. AmeriDisability, an organization that advocates for people with disabilities, has a great list of options to consider providing for spooky season (check out their website here).
Alternative Celebrations and Other Things to Consider
Not everyone is a fan of Halloween (the horror!) and you might be looking for other ways to celebrate the autumn season. You may also love Halloween and all that it has to offer, but maybe you require something a little different this year. There are lots of ways to celebrate the harvest season, including visiting fall festivals or famer's markets- see my post on how to get the most out of those visits here. If you are looking for a low-key activity, watching a spooky movie and turning the lights down low may set the tone for a seasonal evening. You might also consider using this time to research how other cultures celebrate during this time of year and research local and regional traditions. Food is another way to celebrate this time of year, and you might find the perfect way to celebrate by cooking up a tasty recipe in your cauldron or crockpot (find some wickedly delicious fall recipes and ideas here).
However you decide to celebrate this Halloween Season, there are options to meet and accommodate your unique needs. If you want an adventurous way to enjoy the season but aren't sure how, let us plan your next event or outing. We are certain you will have a hauntingly good time if you do!