Well another Halloween has came and went. Kids are waking up all over the country and counting their candied loot(if they didn’t already last night) and deciding if they want to use those Smarties and Milk Duds as bargaining chips for their younger sibling’s or daft neighborhood kid’s Fun Size Snickers or peanut M&Ms. This year’s costume will be used for some fun post-Halloween gallivanting around the house, possibly even an extraneous scare or two(that younger sibling, or possibly grandma when she comes over to babysit.)
But the thrills from that thick latex monster mask will fade and it will end up in a drawer, or under a bed to collect dust bunnies in its itchy, synthetic hair. Maybe it’ll scare someone in a few months when a hand reaches under that bed to find something else and instead it brings out that rubbery ghoul, but its days of scaring are numbered.
For me, Halloween was sort of over a couple years ago. Sure, I still love the season; the movies, the leaves changing colors, the chilly walks, creepy lawn decorations. But with my kids grown up, taking part in the festivities is gone at our house. I think the last time we went trick-or-treating was two or three years ago when my son was 12 or 13. I honestly can’t remember when it was, but I recall that last time he felt sort of awkward walking around the neighborhood being the biggest kid going door to door. He’d decided he didn’t want to do it, but at the last minute he wanted one more go. I’m glad he did, but it was obvious those days were done.
I think we all go thru the end of Halloween twice in our lives.
First its when we become awkward teens and are too old to go door to door. We put that age stamp on it ourselves, so as not to seem immature to our judgmental peers. There’s the Halloween parties that we dress up for, but the pure joy of trick-or-treating is replaced with the anxiety to impress that guy or gal, or just not completely muck up in front of friends.
But when(and if) you have kids, you get to re-discover that pure joy of Halloween all over again. It sits in the wonder and imagination of their heads and hearts, and thru them we get to lock into that all over again. Helping them pick out the right costume, picking out what candy to give out, and mapping out what neighborhoods you’ll hit. That’s another 10 to 12 years of Halloween fun, depending on how early you start taking them out.
Eventually, though, they like you decide they’re done with the whole routine. They’re too old and have better things to do, like sit at home and watch R-Rated horror movies or hang out with their friends in the quiet darkness of the family basement. Or whatever. We lose that magic once again.
I know, I know, there’s adults that revel in the magic of Halloween their whole lives. They’re the ones that set up elaborate scenes in their front yards for neighborhood kids to freak out over and talk about with their schoolmates for weeks after October 31st. Just because you’re not a kid or the parent of kids doesn’t mean Halloween isn’t an integral part of your life and you don’t celebrate every year. But there’s just something about being an adolescent and experiencing it that is different from being an adult and experiencing it. As an adult we’ve looked behind the curtain. We know the gag, man. When you’re a kid those ghouls in the neighbor’s yard are as real as the guy holding your hand telling you they’re not.
The mystery and horror of Halloween is both fascinating and terrifying in the heads and hearts of those little kids walking the urban sidewalks and suburban additions of middle America. As much as an adult can enjoy Halloween, we never get that feeling back. I feel the closest we do to getting back to that awe of the Halloween season is thru our own kids. In seeing the fear and wonder in their eyes we sort of lock into our own fears and wonder, the same ones we felt wearing those “costumes in a box” you bought at Kmart or G.L. Perry.
What did I do this Halloween? I enjoyed some fine libations and my son and I watched movies. We watched the horrible Hitman film with Timothy Olyphant, and then the classic found footage flick Grave Encounters. I quite enjoyed the Mondopalooza live stream, too. Some great panels and some amazing performances from Pentagram Home Video, Dream Division, Timothy Fife, Hunter Complex, Miles Brown, and especially Zetra. They covered “Cry Little Sister” from The Lost Boys and it was stunning.
We didn’t take part this year in giving out candy, because, well, the pandemic. Don’t worry, Halloween will be back next year with Halloween 2 : Electric Boogaloo. And the year after that. As long as people wise up and start thinking of others instead of themselves and wear masks and socially distance we should get back to the horrors of yore, as opposed to the horror reality show we’ve been living this year. I’d much rather have the scariest thing I see be some kids in ghoulish attire running around the neighborhood, as opposed to overweight assholes wearing camo and holding AR-15s listening to Ted Nugent play the “Star Spangled Banner” live.
Now go enjoy those candies, and just throw those Smarties and Milk Duds away. Nobody will trade you their M&Ms for that crap.