Happy Halloween ~ No Matter How You Celebrate…

Okay, the Grinch gave back Christmas—but now he stole Halloween. At least in Bathurst, New Brunswick where the Council of the day is expected to pass new rules governing trick-or-treaters this month. And I thought I was not the merriest of Halloween revelers! Anyone who has read this column knows that I have a love/hate relationship with the festivities, but at least I have not tried to limit them or banish them altogether!

Originally the bylaw was slated to make it illegal for teens over the age of 14 to “parade door-to-door dressed as ghosts and goblins”, with a cut off point of 7:00 p.m. The new rules are a little less rigid. They “forbid anyone older than 16 from trick or treating and extends the curfew to 8:00 p.m.”. Anyone caught with a “facial disguise” in public after curfew, like a zombie mask or witch’s veil, “or anyone over 16 found roaming the streets for treats can be fined up to $200.” So, any adults (which apparently takes in anyone over 16) put away the pillowcases if you reside in Bathurst.

The Deputy Mayor of the city thinks that the whole thing is “silly” and makes several points that the by-law does not address. In an interview with the media (Canadian Press and ultimately a CTV site where I gained my information), Kim Chamberlain called the whole thing “an overreach for city councillors to impose Halloween rules.” She says, and I think quite rightly, that you can “turn out your porch lights if (you) don’t want trick or treaters past a certain hour.” She also made the point that some parents do not get home until 6:00 and would have trouble feeding the kids and getting them into their costumes before the initially proposed 7:00.

City spokesman, Luc Foulem, admits the rules are a bit “kooky” but says that “no one will be running after kids on Halloween.” Which begs the question of “why have the by-law at all”? He said that the reason the bylaw is being considered is that older residents are concerned about “troublemakers”. As someone who unwillingly falls into that category, I do not want to be painted with that brush.

I am not a Halloween fanatic. You will not find any menacing décor at my house other than my little sign that reads “The Witch Is In”, which I do admit sends a message I hope will make the residents of this house, if not tremble in their boots, at least think twice before crossing me. And the fact that I have a witch’s hat and some green and black socks should not make anyone shudder (too much). Halloween is supposed to be fun, and if some us get our jollies from conjuring up our inner darker selves, then so be it. (As long as no damage to heart and soul takes place.)

I was listening to the Lynn Martin Show on AM800 (in Windsor, Ontario) the other day, and she was discussing with callers the “vanilla-izing” (my made-up word, not hers) of Halloween. Lynn asked if there should be an age ban on trick-or-treaters and admitted that she still likes to dress up and go trick or treating. To Lynn, I say, do not go to Bathurst! One of her callers said that she planned all year for Halloween—I am thinking that it is her Christmas in October—and she was quite distressed that her favourite celebration was being messed with.

Apparently different schools and organizations deal with Halloween in a variety of ways—some have tie and scarf day; some orange and black day; and some either banish it altogether, or celebrate it traditionally, with costumes and candy and parties. If I remember correctly, we did not dress up at school for Halloween, but the last period or two of the day in public school was dedicated to a party with refreshments and games. My kids were allowed to dress up early in their school careers, but by the time they reached mid-way through school I believe Halloween was somewhat curtailed.

What I do find particularly menacing at this time of year is not the debate about Halloween but those ominous little chocolate bars. We have already eaten 120 of them and I have to get another supply, but I think I will hold off, both for the benefit of my waistline and the trick or treaters who may show up on the 31st.

No matter how you celebrate Halloween, whether you are a “dark night of the soul” aficionado, or pixie dust is as hard core as you get, enjoy the day. I, myself, can be found on a park bench, reading Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” precisely at midnight on the festive eve. I will be in the Witch’s hat and robes with my striped stockings on, broom at my side, and Kitty Bob (my multi-coloured cat) dyed (non-permanent, organic) black.

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Published in: on October 24, 2017 at 7:20 pm  Comments (5)  

What About Us?

“What about us?
What about all the times you said you had the answers?
What about us?
What about all the broken happy ever afters?
Oh, what about us?
What about all the plans that ended in disaster?
Oh, what about love? What about trust?
What about us?”

These words are the bridge or the refrain, if you will of Pink’s latest big hit on her new album “Beautiful Trauma”, which pretty well sums up what life is all about. Now if you are wondering what the bridge is, I will tell you. I took a half a day song writing workshop a few years ago from John and Michele Law and learned two things: the lyrics of a song is poetry in action; and a bridge is “often used to contrast with and prepare for the return of the verse and the chorus.” (Wikipedia)
We all know what a physical (even metaphorical) bridge is. It connects two things and makes them whole. And that is what Pink’s bridge is in her song “What About Us?” She was on Good Morning America this morning and said that she does not like giving a song meaning, because the words speak to each person individually. She said that the song was originally about how the government has let people down, but that a friend of hers thought it bespoke of love. (Obviously not a happy ending to this love story.)
I have had a few more decades on this earth than Pink can claim, and I understand the misgivings, the disappointments, and the loss of trust. But then again, I no longer really expect that the government of any country, state, province, or even municipality has the answers—nor do I depend on them for those answers. Call me a pessimist, but I think I am pragmatic. I think that government officials want to provide the answers, want to do their best for us, and give us what we need. But they cannot. And they cannot for many, many reasons—some good, some bad.
I think that “broken happy ever afters” and “plans that ended in disaster” are part of life, but I am not one of those people who is content to believe that “it is what it is.” Sometimes, yes, we have to accept “what is” but we get to work with it, around it, or through it. I understand that our hands are tied on occasion, but we have to find a way to unknot the “ties that bind”. This may seem foolish, and at times there is no going back— but we have to keep moving forward or we are stuck.
I have been stuck in the muck and mire and have attempted (with varying degrees of success) to pull myself out of certain situations. Some situations are of my own making, but we have all had to contend with situations that we really did not have a hand in, but have to deal with anyway. And that Sucks, with a capital S.
We can look for outside help, after all “no man (or woman) is an island”, but we have to recognize that we cannot always be rescued by someone or something else, at least not on this plane of existence. I am not a big believer in “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” as I am aware that bootstraps can snap. But faith, if you have it, can be a great thing to fall back on. I have a faith in something I cannot see, verify, touch, or avoid questioning, but for some reason I still maintain it.
I have trouble advocating faith in something greater than I am but that does not mean I do not have faith. It is an uneasy coupling. My rational self cannot quite be convinced, but my self that wants to believe, believes. I know there are people who have an undying and unquestioned faith. I am not among your ranks. I am from the “what if” school of thought, not willing to close the door.
How I ended up talking about faith when I started out talking about “bridges” is perhaps cyclical in nature. Bridges are connections, and I guess my imperfect faith is how I stay connected to a beautifully traumatic world. Anyway, I promise to lighten up a bit in my next column. Thanks for listening….

Published in: on October 18, 2017 at 2:00 pm  Comments (3)