How do you celebrate All Hallows' Evening?

While there seems to be general consensus that the observance of Halloween dates back to Celtic harvest festivals, there is some debate about its exact origins. A quick glance at Wikipedia is enough to overwhelm all but the heartiest of researching souls. Since I’m neither a speaker of Gaelic nor a historian, I’ll leave the details to the experts. Instead, it seems fitting to mark the day with a discussion about what I love most about the holiday. 
 As someone who writes about murder on an almost daily base, I’m embarrassed to admit that I avoid horror movies and books because they scare me too much. And, yet, every year on October 31st I’m drawn to the spookiest bits of the day. No cute or sexy costumes for me. I like it creepy. One year, when my kids were small, my husband literally blocked me from leaving the apartment to take our then second-grade daughter and pre-k son to the school Halloween party until I made my face less scary. He was afraid I would make the younger kids cry. (I was a ghost that year and had spent a good bit of time with makeup so that I looked like I’d been dead for a few decades). Another year I took my kids trick-or-treating; and we were all characters from Star Wars. I was the Emperor. Not only did I find a perfect ragged walking stick that allowed me to hobble hunched over, but I drew wrinkles and warts on my hands, and rubbed dirt under my nails so that every bit of me looked evil. There was not a dog we met that night that didn’t growl. I took those snarls as compliments. My daughter, now a senior in high school, informed me that my problem with Halloween is that if I dress up (which I don’t always do), I tend to be extra. I’m not entirely sure what that means, because I’m not a fluent speaker of teenagese, but I have a feeling it’s not good. I suspect my plans to be Count Dracula this year may be met with some eye-rolling by my family, who prefer a lower-key approach to the holiday. So, my fellow suspense readers and writers–my friends who like to read and write about death for fun–how do you like to celebrate this centuries-old holiday? Do you carve happy jack-o-lanterns and bob for apples? Or do you like the darker side? Or, maybe, something else in between? No matter how you celebrate: Happy Halloween!      

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