Halloween, Where Have you Gone and Why Have you Left me Here?

Halloween, where have you gone and why have you left me here? Why am I sitting on my front porch, surrounded by skulls and cobwebs with a bowl of candy placed on my lap waiting for the magic while the malls and department stores are already setting up wreaths and trees?

What happened to my neighbourhood? I remember it being littered with kids. You’d have to stand in line behind three other groups of tick-or-treaters before you could get to any given house. Parents would call out to each other to do last minute runs to the grocery store for another few boxes of candy. This year, I had to give out handfuls just to put a dent in what I had to give.

I remember being out with my friends until 10, sometimes eleven at night. We’d alternate between our neighbourhoods each year, and then compare each to the last the year before. One year, we had actually mapped out all of Davidson Creek in Sherwood Park to make sure we hit every block, hit every house, explored everywhere we could, and made the most of the night. This year, my house was empty and the streets were barren by 7:30.

Halloween was so much more than just a quest for candy. It was a night of mystery and mischief. It was travelling through neighbourhoods, going as far as your legs would let you and then going further. Getting lost and improvising ways back home. Hauling a pillow-case heavy enough to be used as a weapon. It didn’t matter how cold it was outside, how much it snowed the night before, or how hard the wind was blowing, this was our night. Our night to be on our own and wander the streets carefree, seeing how people decorated their houses and what costumes other kids came up with.

Eight o’clock rolled around and I just couldn’t sit and wait any longer. The wind blowing leaves along the dark empty streets and the streetlight’s illuminating without a shadow in sight just depressed me too much. I went inside my house and tried to find some Halloween specials on TV. There was nothing. I couldn’t even find a Scoobie-Doo cartoon. Remember the Garfield Halloween special where he and Odie dressed as pirates but then encountered pirate ghosts? That cartoon scared me a bit when I was a kid, but I loved it. After all, everyone deserves a good scare on Halloween. Instead, the TV guide on my screen told me it was just another night of prime-time police dramas and syndicated sit-coms. God forbid we interrupt your stories.

Maybe kids just lack imagination now. Halloween is a holiday that requires a bit more thought and creativity on the part of those who celebrate it. Christmas simply involves going to the mall and digging yourself into more debt. New Year’s simply involves drinking and yelling things. For Halloween, you actually have to think. You actually have to take the time to think up a costume, figure out what it means that this is the costume you chose to wear, and how to defend your choices in how you put your ensemble together. Maybe Halloween’s dying because people are lazy and uncreative today. They expect all creativity to be in easily digestible formats and cleanly wrapped up in thirty minutes (including commercial breaks of course).

I used to spend hours coming up with my costume for the year. Most memorable for me is when my friends and I all dressed up as the Misfits. I sat in front of the mirror, making sure my make up was exactly like Jerry Only’s, giving my devilock perfect shape in front of my face, and putting just the right rips in my glow-in-the-dark crimson ghost t-shirt. I wasn’t just dressing up, I was creating something and it had to be perfect. Any less than perfect was completely unacceptable.

Halloween, do you remember all this too? Do you remember my friends and me staying up all night watching Freddy Krueger and Michael Meyers movies the night before, getting ourselves excited for our night of horror and fun? Do you remember how many hours I spent going through every Halloween department in every department store I could possibly get into?

Halloween, it’s bad enough when something becomes commercialized and commoditized, marginalized and capitalized on. It’s even worse when it completely vanishes.

Do you remember, Halloween? I do. And because I’m sitting alone on this empty street, it hurts. And I miss it.

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