As Expected: The Halloween Column

  By now, you know the ritual–this is my weekly newspaper column:

                One need not be a chamber to be haunted;
              One need not be a house;
              The brain has corridors surpassing
              Material place. ~  Emily Dickinson

      

Haunted House

Haunted House (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

  There is a rhythm to life. Expectations that must be met. If you are a columnist and it is the last week in golden October then you just naturally turn to the subject of Halloween. And you remember your love/hate relationship with the celebration of the dark night of the soul, or as I prefer to think of it—the night of endless chocolate, chewy caramels, and remembrances of homemade popcorn balls and chocolate chip cookies packaged prettily in cellophane.

        Again, against my better judgement, I bought one of those boxes of chocolate bars that I am particularly fond of—a combo of Reese’s peanut butter cups, mini O’Henry chocolate bars, and Hershey’s milk chocolate bars with peanuts. I have now pretty well emptied the box, having shared only a few of the treats with my husband (lest you think I am mean, he is diabetic after all-don’t want to kill the guy!) so I have had to purchase more candy. I was careful this time to buy candy that does not speak to my sweet tooth but will still pass muster with the few kids destined to show up at my house on Thursday night.

       

English: Candy corn, specifically Brach's cand...

 Candy corn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The number of trick or treaters have dwindled over the years—as my sons grew older, so did their friends, and no one seems to be replacing that crew at my door—something that is both a relief and disappointment. I remember fondly the days of excitement leading up to the grand day of chocolate and all things sweet—the costumes and smeary grease paint, the adventure of walking out the door knowing we would come home with a bounty of cavity causing booty, my sneaky swiping of my favourite chocolate bars from my sons’ cache bagged unceremoniously in pillow cases. Ah—the good old days!

        Halloween has become big business. So much so that it seems to rival Christmas in our affections. I guess the ‘shadow’ side of life needs to be given its moment in the sun, and this weekend The National Post took the whole Halloween, death, and dying thing for a spin—making death the cornerstone of many of their articles, opinion pieces, and columns. I read a bit of it and was left feeling overexposed to the subject and a little bit creeped out. Do I really want to know that Marilyn Monroe’s last meal consisted of stuffed mushrooms, meatballs and Dom Perignon, or that Cleopatra noshed on figs before meeting her demise?

        One section of the paper was devoted to “The Look of Death”, touting black as the new black; another section was called “13 Spectral Street” contemplating the scariest address in town; a third section shouted “How We Die Now” and elucidated on “the new ways we deal with death.” And, not to be left out, the financial section headline was “Death and Money.” Usually the National Post is my favourite weekend paper, but not so this weekend. I lightly perused its pages, alighting carefully on articles that were not too gruesome, but in truth, skipped most of its content. Even Rex Murphy, who I find eloquently toothsome in his descriptions, was a disappointment with his wish at the end of his column that everyone have a “happy, grey, grim Halloween”. Death, a topic possibly ripe for Halloween was overdone in this edition. The paper is now in the recycle pile—none of it saved for further study or rereading.

        I am a fan of the Halloween that produces fairies and Cinderellas, dinosaurs and robots. Not for me the monsters, or skeletons, and if the ghost is Casper, then I am okay with that. The macabre does not fascinate me; death does not beguile me; tombstones are not the delight of my décor. Inexplicably I do have a soft spot in my heart for witches and wizards, probably as a result of being brought up on the television program “Bewitched” with enchanting Samantha and her charming nose twitch (something I practiced a lot as a kid to no avail.)

        So, in opposition to Rex’s desire that you have a grim Halloween, I wish you as many trick or treaters at your door as you desire, chocolate dreams, and caramel apple wishes.

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Published in: on October 28, 2013 at 2:33 pm  Comments (35)  
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  1. Tell it Sister! I feel exactly like you. I just remember Halloween being a good thing — for kids — and I too am not beguiled by death. This is one of my all-time favorite columns of yours, Lou. Expertly written, from the heart and I’ll just bet one that so many people will identify with. Wonderful! Thank you. (FYI — I have three bags of candy I’ve not opened hidden behind stuff in the pantry.) I’m seriously trying to hold out.

    • I am with you–wish it had been kept to the realm of just kids–and I must congratulate you on not eating your candy–you are my hero

  2. I’m with you- I don’t like Halloween being too macabre. I take a low-key approach to holidays, but I definitely seem to be in the minority in not being obsessed with Halloween. Maybe people have always been this way, and I’m just more aware of it now because of social media?

    • I love to see the little kids dress up, but as for the rest of it–I do not enjoy it–my 22 year old just loves it though

  3. I’m still wondering how Hallowe’en got to be such a big deal up here. I know the Americans love it – but I always remember it just being the night that you went door to door for candy. When did people start decorating their lawns and houses for the entire month of October? I think that’s a bit wierd. I used to put out a few little decorations on Halloween night for all 9 rural kids that came to our house, but took them down again that same night. I prefer it stayed just a nice fun evening, centred around the small kids too.

    • that is my idea of Halloween too–it has become just a big production and it is not really my favourite holiday

  4. Not a big fan of Halloween….heading down to visit you on Thursday so I’ll miss all the ghosts and witches here! Great post.

    • I will put my witch hat on for you so you will not miss out on anything!

      • Ha!

  5. Now that my kids are grown I just don’t get excited about Halloween anymore. I actually cross my fingers that not many kids will show up so I can eat all the leftovers LOL!! Well actually, I guess I will have to fight Mike and Daniel for the leftovers :).

  6. I just bought my candy today and yes I stupidly bought my favorites. And I too cracked the damn bag. My will power will be strong… Smile maybe. I love me a snickers. My street is full of little ghost and goblins. We are the old farts on the road. Can’t wait til Halloween !

    • Will you have any candy left–or like me, have to go out and buy some more? We have a few young ones on the street, but not many—

      • Oh goodness LouAnn I hope we have some left i bought a giant bag. But you never know…. My dude digs the chocolate too

      • we must be strong—lol

      • I’m not… That’s why my hips are string and wide. Haaaaaa

      • Strong not string

      • I knew that

  7. I’m the same way. I love the cutesy aspects of Halloween, pumpkin carving, trick or treating, seeing my kids all excited and dressed up. But I hate horror movies and all the blood and gore that comes along with this holiday. Which is funny because I will read a good Stephen King book. But mostly, I just try to get through Halloween and get on with Thanksgiving, a holiday I love.

    • I agree with you – although we have already had our Thanksgving–we move straight into Christmas

  8. That Emily Dickinson quote stopped me dead in my (internet) tracks. Somehow I have never read that before. Good, so very very good. Thanks for sharing it!

  9. I also love the fun aspect of Halloween, and am sad that it’s been overtaken by some of the horrifically bizarre and macabre images we are seeing today.

  10. Ah, my sentiments exactly! I love the kid version of Halloween, and I’m absolutely disinterested in anything to do with the horror genre, at any time of year. There’s enough frightening reality out there…I don’t need to go there for my entertainment. And like you, I miss the festivities of the day with children around. This year I’m helping out with a church “Trunk or Treat.” Should be fun! ~ Sheila

    • when churches take on Halloween it returns the festivities to what they used to be–a fun time for kids–I too am not interested at all in any of the horror stuff and agree that there is enough in reality to contend with

  11. Couldn’t agree more. At the moment, most of my peers here seem to be deciding which gruesome Halloween party to attend this week. So far, I haven’t seen one that hasn’t mentioned death and/or horrific zombies. I still remember being traumatized when I was younger by the most gruesome mask I’d ever seen in a costume shop and I’m not overly eager to see it (or a similar version) actually being worn on someone’s face. I think I’ll just go out and buy some candy to eat on Thursday night instead of hanging out with bloody zombies and the like. ;)

    • I think you have a good plan–what is it with all the zombie stuff? I do not understand the macabre at all–noshing on chocolate seems to be the sensible thing to do under the circumstances. I wish you a lovely Halloween, not a creepy one!

  12. I got waaaaaay too many trick-or-treayers. Will post about it later this week. In the meantime – let me go get a piece of chocolate from one of the kid’s bags – LOL :)

    • you have had trick or treaters already?

      • Our trick-or-treat day was on Sunday here.

      • oh, how come?

      • For safety reasons & so it doesn’t interfere with work & school schedules. It varies per city/town/neighborhood.

      • very cool

  13. I also like the ‘lighter’ side of Halloween. There’s too many scary realities right now… in real life yes… but also in the films etc. Little ‘witches’ shelling out.. donned in their little costumes doesn’t bother me.. because I know that is a ‘favorite’ costume for the little ones … right along with princesses… You’re so right that the numbers have dwindled, parents I think somewhat fearful of pranksters etc. or tainted candy…. alas maybe one day there will not be ‘shelling out’ at all… Diane


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