"Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you. Then, it will be a really good day." Louie Schwartzberg
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On Halloween and Guy Fawkes

posted by Susan Dominikovich on , ,


My North American friends and family have recently celebrated Halloween.  I have enjoyed seeing their children dressed up in imaginative creations, getting together with others and going out to "trick or treat."  While we don't do Halloween in New Zealand (not really), I have fond memories of dressing up in my costumes, layers underneath, mittens and thick socks, going out with all the other children, sack in hand, to ring the doorbells of ghoulishly decorated houses, gathering sweet loot.   

As a child, Halloween was second only to Christmas in the calendar year.  I loved the planning and the anticipation of dressing up, hoping it wouldn't snow or worse, rain that night and going out with my sister and brother or friends and roaming the streets with all the other children.  It was nothing but fun and adventure.   Getting a teeny bit scared was part of the fun.

As an adult, I see things differently.  As a Christian adult, I see things very differently.  I know the history.  I know the roots of Halloween.  I know what it all means.  I have seen the debates on-line between Christians and I realise that I have not been forced to make a decision on the rights or wrongs, dos and don'ts of Halloween so I have no right to comment on what others choose to do.

Does anyone have that right?  Ever?

I have learnt to respect everyone's right to make their own informed decision for their own family.  I certainly don't have the right to judge anyone else.

In this country we do Guy Fawkes instead of Halloween.  We celebrate one Catholic man's failed attempt to blow up the Protestant British Parliament and his consequent execution.  Historically, on November 5, people build a bonfire and throw a dummy Guy onto the flames to watch him burn.  

Good fun.  Hysterical.  A really obvious reason to celebrate too.

Now, most of us just burn money instead of a dummy stuffed Guy.  In other words, we buy fireworks and set them off in our yards, scaring the cats and dogs into hiding, which is a good thing because I have heard horror stories of youths and cats and dogs and fireworks.  And mailboxes.  And accidents and emergencies.

So for a number of years, I joined the anti-fireworks brigade.  When the sale and control of fireworks came up I practically lobbied parliament with signs which read "ban all fireworks!"  Dangerous things.  Waste of money.  Scaring my dog like that.  Okay, I didn't exactly lobby parliament, but I certainly made my opinion clear.  To anyone who listened.  I shook my head at fireworks-lovers and wagged my pointy finger at them.  I'm sure I made a difference too.


A few years ago, Paul was tutoring and had cash in hand.  He asked me, "hun did you mean it when you said I could do anything I like with my hard-earned tutoring money?"  

"Of course I meant it dear..." (a good man for asking).

"Well good then...because I've bought some fireworks."

Gasp!  But I gritted my teeth and held back on what I really wanted to say.  I am a woman who keeps her word.

So we celebrated Guy Fawkes for the first time.  Paul set up a wee spot in the yard and the rest of us kept our distance, Paul lighting them and me yelling, "get back! get back!"  The twins were only 4 and ended up watching from within the house, scared of the bangs and the pops and the squeals of some of the special ones.  

And it was fun.  

Good exciting family fun and worth every dollar we blew sky high.

It became a tradition and the last couple of years we've celebrated Guy Fawkes with friends and community over a meal, roasting marshmallows in the outdoor fire, waving sparklers together on the lawn and letting off some bangers when it's dark enough.  We don't necessarily wait for November 5 but choose a fine night nearby on the weekend.  This year Sam helped his daddy with the lighting.  One of our friends brought his own box because "I've never bought fireworks before" with the glow of a kid about to open something very special.  The boys thoroughly enjoyed the responsibility of putting on a show for us womenfolk and children, cuddled under a blanket on the swing or in front row seats.  

Pre-fireworks ice creams and general silliness

The great marshmallow roast

Madeline with a sparkler

More sparkler fun

When it comes to Guy Fawkes and fireworks, my wagging finger is tucked neatly away.  In fact, I hope I've learnt to tuck that finger away for good.  Yes, there are oddities to the tradition and there is danger involved as well as the evils of commercialism, but hey...it's fun.  The kids love it.

Just as I loved Halloween.


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