Welcome back, awesome readers!
So here we are. That time of year when we get to watch the leaves change from lush shades of summer to the colder hues of red and orange, until the leaves finally fall to their yellow demise.
Those of us living in a climate that’s marked by quarters get to “oooh” and “aaah” as we share pics of the colourful wonders of the season, distracted from what’s really coming: winter.
But before the arrival of Old Man Winter, this time of year is also defined by the spooky festivities of Halloween. Front lawns decorated with skeletons and headstones. Jack-o lanterns. Witches and goblins. An excuse for ignoring the cobwebs that gather in the corners of our ceilings. *Cough* #Decorations
When I was a kid, I remember wondering about Halloween. Why do we dress up and go door-to-door, expecting candy from our neighbours? What does it mean?
We weren’t religious, my family and I, but all the other seasonal festivities had an explanation. All except Halloween.
From my child-brain’s perspective, Christmas was about Santa Claus and someone who died for the rest of us. Maybe.
Easter was about chocolate and something to do with that same guy, the one who died for us, changing his mind and coming back to life.
Thanksgiving was about turkeys and being thankful. Or maybe the turkeys were thankful. Except that didn’t make sense to my young, developing mind because how can a turkey be thankful when it’s laid out on the dining room table about to be smothered in gravy?
Valentine’s Day was about who got the most Valentines in the class. (Which usually meant “ewwww” but on Valentine’s Day you WANTED the opposite sex to like you.)
St. Patrick’s Day was the day you got to wear green to school. Or in my case forgot to wear green to school. Until you walked in class and realized that everyone else hadn’t forgotten. (“Well, I’m wearing green underwear.”)
Every celebration was about something. Religious or not, my child-mind accepted all for truth. Except Halloween. Halloween didn’t have an explanation. Every year the same question would be asked (“what is Halloween, anyway?”) and every year the response mostly came as a shrug. And with a cool indifference I would turn my attention back to my pile of candy as my brother and I sat huddled on the floor, trading each other for favourites.
A tootsie roll for a caramel. A bag of chips for a mini box of Smarties. We both loved molasses taffy so those didn’t get traded. Mostly because of their special orange and black wrapping.
Then one year, I was finally confronted with a real answer to my life-long question regarding the meaning of Halloween.
I was in grade six so around 11 years old when an older girl – one with boobs and really nice hair (which proved her sageness) – gave me the explanation I’d been seeking.
“Halloween night is when the veil between the living and dead is the thinnest,” she explained with professor precision. “It’s why kids walk around in costumes. So that the evil spirits won’t recognize them as children and steal them.” My eyes widened as I listened.
“Or eat them,” she added.
Halloween changed for me that year.
Suddenly, walking the sidewalks as part of a random parade of ghosts from sheets and witches in black hats wasn’t about how much candy I could score, but rather how I could spot the evil spirits.
Was the masked ogre walking in front of me really a kid dressed as an ogre? Or was he an evil spirit dressed as a child dressed as an ogre?
What about that one? The one dressed as a dead prison inmate?
And what’s really under that sheet?
I was gobsmacked.
PS. I don’t usually use the word “gobsmacked” in my writing but today is Halloween and this word reminds me of goblins and jawbreakers so appropriate, don’t you think?
I had tons more questions, of course, but that was enough for me. I didn’t need to know any more than that. Suddenly, Halloween wasn’t about spooky fun. It was downright dangerous. No wonder my parents never told me. And WHY WERE THEY LETTING ME OUTSIDE WITH EVIL SPIRITS?
I think this says a lot about trust issues. Not mine, but in general.
And then I got to thinking about Christmas and that guy who died and Easter and that same guy who rose from the dead and Halloween and evil spirits coming back to eat children and OH MY GOD, AWESOME READERS! JESUS IS A ZOMBIE.
There’s a saying:
“If you want to know about a topic, read about it. If you want to understand it, write about it.”
I think I just wrote myself into an understanding that I wasn’t ready for.
I need to stop writing. Quick. I need a book to read. Something nice. With no dead people. And ESPECIALLY no child-eating zombies.
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