Monthly Musing – October 2020 – Family ties
“Mum, don’t look, you won’t like this bit!”
It’s a strange day when you have your daughters telling you what’s appropriate for you to watch on TV, but as someone who can’t make the pictures go away and having an overactive imagination which creates scenes in my head far worse than in any movie, my family are well-used to employing the “Mum rating” to whatever we’re watching! It’s something that I’ve learnt to live with; it’s just how it is.
Hallowe’en, a time that stirs up passions a-plenty for many people and one that will certainly be different this year, has arrived and with it plenty of scary movies! Small daughter, still at an age where she will happily collect her body weight in sweeties whilst trick or treating, is disappointed that the endless conversations with friends about what outfits they may or may not wear (may not, sadly, this year, but she’s still had fun choosing!) won’t be resulting in a risk of tooth decay, but I think their plan is to watch a scary film together over the internet so I think there may still be plenty of shrieking going on! (No Mum-rating required for her although we do insist that they consider the age-appropriate ratings for the films!)
When I was a child, Hallowe’en was much less of an event than it is today. There was no trick or treating and nobody in our street ever decorated their houses. However, my brother and I would spend hours carving scary faces out of swedes (rutabagas) – also no pumpkins around in my younger days and you never forget the smell of smouldering swede! – and ducking for apples that we would take one bite out of and then leave to go brown …
That’s far too tame for my girls who both rolled their eyes growing up as I would recount tales of Hallowe’ens past, and with no desire whatsoever to set fire to a swede again in my lifetime, I much prefer these days to think of Hallowe’en in its earlier form. It was believed to have come from the pagan festival of Samhain which celebrates the end of Summer and was thought to be a time when the boundary between this world and the next could more easily be crossed. If you think about it like that, it’s easy to see where the stories of ghosts and monsters have come from!
Surprisingly, given my tendency to hide behind sofa cushions on a regular basis, I don’t find that scary at all. I like the idea that we are a little closer to our ancestors, that the gap between our world and theirs is a bit smaller. It’s an opportunity for me to remember what they have given me, especially my Mum, my Nan and my Grandma who were all knitters. I can hold the same needles they held in their hands, use the stitch holders, scissors, even safety pins that came from their work boxes, and the space between us is not so very far at all.
I like to think that we are the sum of our ancestors, that the lives they lived and the skills they possessed somehow pass on to us in some way – sometimes more, sometimes less with each generation – and we can choose to develop them further or not. It’s something that I have thought more about as I’ve got older, perhaps as my own sense of mortality has grown over the years, and I hope that the better parts of the way I live and the skills I have learnt can be passed on to another generation. I’m not sure that hiding behind cushions is a valuable transferable skill, but perhaps knowing my own limitations is. And you’d be impressed how much of a sock you can knit when you’re concentrating very hard at NOT looking at a TV screen!