As the days grow shorter, and a cool chill fills the evening air; it’s almost time for hideous, cackling witches, to soar high above leafless trees laid bare by brisk autumn winds, and snatch up unwary children, as they rush home to beat the coming darkness. The fall has always been my favorite season. I love the decorating of my house with carved pumpkins, corn stalks, scarecrows, bales of hay, frightening skeletons, sticky cobwebs, gravestones, and terrifying monsters. In early October, my anticipation begins for costume parties, visiting haunted houses, bobbing for apples, the telling of scary stories, small children at my door in cute outfits, hot spiced rum with cinnamon and whipped cream, and of course – Halloween.
The approach of Halloween will also bring the one night of the year, when the denizens of the cold and dark nether world rise to walk among us, with the express purpose of stealing our very souls. Unless we turn off all the lights, bolt our doors, and huddle together for protection and comfort in front of roaring fires, we may fall victim to a night ruled by the foulest of creatures, as they rise from their resting places to make our lives miserable. The night once known as “All Hallows Eve,” is a dark, misty, and bone-chilling night of being haunted by soulless evil spirits, frightening ghosts, flesh-eating ghouls, horrifying demons, the rotting corpses of the undead, and my extremely terrifying mother-in-law. Sorry about that Irma. I didn’t mean it. Please don’t put a curse on me. I’m already losing my hair, I invite you over for thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas dinners, and I feed your thirteen black cats when you’re away. Don’t you think I’ve suffered enough? To be fair, I shouldn’t have put my mother-in-law on the Halloween list. She actually haunts me – all year round.
I did some research on the origins of Halloween, and learned some interesting facts. There was once an English and Irish tradition, in which people of meager means, would dress up in costumes, go from house to house, and ask for food or money. When I read this, my first thought was, “Halloween tradition? My relatives do this, all year long. As a matter of fact, my nephew showed up yesterday dressed as a hobo, and was looking for a few bucks.” I also learned that the wearing of masks on Halloween was a way of imitating evil spirits, and thus, allowing a person to walk among them. The more frightening, and horrifyingly ugly the mask, the less chance that you would be recognized, and have your soul stolen. It’s funny, but sometimes, I’ll come to the door on Halloween with a heaping bowl of assorted, and mouth-watering candies, and children will take one look at me, scream and flee, in abject terror. I’ll then be chastised by my wife, as she says, “Come on honey. How many times do I have to remind you to put on your mask – before, you answer the door.”
Did you ever wonder when the tradition of giving out candy on Halloween started? Aren’t we going a little overboard with the production and ingestion of candy during various holidays? Just last week, I finished off the last of the Easter candy, and I’m still trying to lose the five pounds of weight I gained after last Christmas, and Valentine’s Day. I have a question about something that’s always bothered me about Halloween treats. Is candy corn really a confectionary product, is it edible, and if so, does anyone ever eat it? I once took a bite of one on a dare, and chipped a tooth. A friend told me that candy corn isn’t even made anymore. He said that the last batch was made in 1935. Rumor has it that nobody ever eats it, and that moms have been putting out the same bowl full of candy corn every year. Okay moms – fess up. If I go into my pantry right now, am I going to find a sealed container of candy corn that’s been passed down for generations, sitting way in the back behind that stack of kidney beans? I’ve been noticing something strange over the past few years. Is Halloween candy getting smaller, or are kids hands getting bigger? Last year, two small children and a toddler showed up at our front door, with hands that looked like baseball gloves. They emptied my bowl with one swipe of their massive appendages, and quickly stuffed at least two pounds of candy into enormous black trash bags. They then ran out to the curb, and loaded their haul onto a pallet attached to a forklift driven by their father.
Have any of you ever run out of Halloween candy? Worse yet, was it still early, and dozens of adorable dinosaurs, beautiful little princesses, and small, but powerful super heroes were swarming your neighborhood? What did you do? If you’re like me and my wife; you started scouring the kitchen cabinets, and pantry for small bags of pretzels and potato chips. Next comes the assorted packets of peanut butter crackers, then individual fruit cups, and finally – yogurt containers. If you’re really desperate, you pull out your personal, and hidden jar of delicious gummy worms, and Swedish fish, which you reluctantly place in small sandwich bags. If the hordes continue unabated, as a last desperate measure, you turn off the porch and interior lights, silence the TV, draw the shades, and hide until the onslaught eventually ends. Have any of you ever given out enough candy to put between six and seven hundred children on a week-long sugar high, and woke up the next morning to find smashed pumpkins, egged cars, missing mailboxes, and toilet paper-covered trees? Kind of messes up the trick or treat thing, doesn’t it? How many times have you had groups of teenagers show up at your door wearing baggy shorts, white tee-shirts, and masks from the movie scream? Did a familiar group of teenagers show up an hour later wearing baggy pants, white tee-shirts, and clown masks? Were their bags full of all your candy?
You may have noticed that Halloween isn’t even as scary as it once was? I remember a few years ago how I couldn’t even go to my mailbox without three or four black-clad figures with huge knives, and white, freakishly twisted scream masks, leaping out of nearby bushes. And those were just my wife and kids messing with me! Now, on Halloween night, I’ll inevitably open my front door to an assortment of some of the cutest and most adorable superheroes like Captain America and Spiderman, princesses in pink dresses, tiny swashbuckling pirates with hooks for hands, and toddlers wearing purple Barney outfits. Who knows; this year I may even catch a glimpse of….. Snow White – Oh, the horror! Come on parents. This year, I need to see ravenous, blood splattered zombies, meat cleavers embedded in heads, vampires who don’t look like fashion models, and huge, vicious, slobbering werewolves with the mailman’s leg securely positioned between their immense jaws. I think Halloween may have gotten a little bit scarier. I just bought two bales of hay, a big pumpkin, a dozen corn stalks, four, purple and black ears of corn, a two-foot tall, smiling scarecrow, and paid $119.95! It doesn’t get much scarier than that.
I guess, I better get going. I need to go out and buy my dog, Chase, a Halloween costume. He wants to be a chicken this year. He said it will make it easier to sneak up on those tasty, finger licking good, Halloween treats. I got the idea for dressing Chase up this year from my next-door neighbor, old widow McDougal. Last year she came to my door with her cat and dog. At first, I didn’t know what to think, when I opened the door and saw a cat and dog sitting quietly on my front porch. They were cute though, so I reached down, scratched the dog’s ears and he started to purr. I then petted what looked like her large Maine Coon cat, Rufus, only to see a tail wag, and hear a bark. I can tell you this. Now, those were great Halloween costumes.