"Do it with passion or not at all"
Halloween has long been a favorite holiday of mine: a carousel of family rituals and rites of passage that evolved each year. It all began with homemade toddler-sized costumes and elementary school parades. Trick-or-treating followed: first with parents, and then with friends in middle school before tapering into high school dances and events, college keggers, and a succession of hazy bar crawls and seedy parties throughout my twenties (remember that questionable hotel party in Detroit?).
At this point, the average American human usually procreates and begins the cycle all over again with their own tiny ewok/princess/teddybear. BUT - what about the rest of us? I moved to Colorado at the beginning of my thirties and felt my first painful stab of homesickness on Halloween night. While scrolling through endless Facebook feed of my Michigan friends with their adorable costume clad children and the baby-less crowd posing in last minute costumes at house parties and pubs, I suddenly realized: I have no idea what comes next, and I'm all alone to figure it out.
This year, I tried not to focus on that empty event-less square looming at the end of my October calendar. I could always join the caravan of in-laws with my trick-or-treating niece, or hand out candy, or dress up and meet my youthful Colorado friends at the bar downtown, but I just wasn't feeling any of those things. I was thrilled (and secretly relieved) when Patrick asked if I would paint faces at a Halloween Humane Society adoption event.
I wore my Belle costume from last year, because - why not?
For four chaotic hours, I painted a colorful array of skulls, butterflies, and dinosaurs on cheerful faces and was educated by the next generation about 'Ding-Dong-Ditch', Medieval knights vs. Star Wars knights, and elementary school costume trends. Between patrons, I helped corral excited dogs, collect donations, and clean up water bowl spills. One of my favorites was this guy, Stoli, when he met his new family, he crawled in the ladies lap and sat there like a teddy bear as she filled out the adoption paperwork.
Five of the six dogs at the event were adopted on the spot by new families. Isn't that amazing? I just love that I was able to contribute to this process.