Friday, 31 October 2014

Halloween 2014


Well, it is Halloween again, seems like only a year has passed since the last one. The little ghost and goblins are terribly excited. They are thrilled to put on costumes and equally thrilled that they will be given bags of candy just for ringing a doorbell tonight. It is truly a magic evening!

I can remember planning for Halloween weeks in advance. There was the costume of course, but back then it was more or less just wearing your dad’s old clothes, rubbing a burnt cork on your face and having a stick with a handkerchief on the end. I went out as a Bindlestiff more times than I can remember. We had to plan just how we were going to carry the candy and we had to find the optimum route. It had to be loops starting and ending on our street, so that we could drop the pillow case of candy and get back on the street without wasting too much time. There were a few places we had to go to, out of respect we would hit our friend’s homes to show the parents our costumes and over the years we learned who gave out the best candy. You didn’t want to waste time on anyone that would drop an apple in your bag.

Best time of the year for a suburban middle class kid! It came very close to Christmas, but without the family obligations and the Christian act where you had to exchange equal gifts. Nope, Halloween was about excess, unrepentant and unapologetic excess.

Times have changed somewhat, the costumes are mostly store bought and you know just by looking what a kid is dressed up as. Parents are afraid to send the kids out alone and sometimes will have a Halloween party in a house somewhere so that the kids will be safe. The malls would host Halloween for a few years, but they realized pretty quickly that the parents would bring their kids but wouldn’t end up buying anything at all, so they stopped encouraging Halloween at the mall. Most kids that come door to door now will have a parent in tow and what I consider to be a ridiculously small bag for the candy.

Our neighbourhood has gotten older and there are fewer kids than when our guys were tick or treating. Back in the old days, we would have anywhere from a hundred to two hundred kids show up at the door. Some years it was -30° and they still came, costumes covered with parkas and toques. Now, the numbers are twenty to forty kids and a quarter of those are high school kids with the munchies.

I was wondering today just where this tradition came from. I know it is loosely based on All Saints Eve and All Hallows Eve which are tied to the Catholic Church in some way. No, I mean, who was the genius that converted it into a Godsend for the candy industry. It has taken a few decades, but Halloween now rivals Christmas with decorations and money spent. I heard it said on the radio today that women like Halloween because it is the one time of year they can dress slutty and not have their friends be critical. I don’t know about that, but it is kind of fun to put on a costume and mask to be someone different even for one night. Our lives are for the most part a string of sameness and it is nice to get to be someone different and flamboyant for an evening or two.


Have fun shedding the old tonight and enjoy the change. Laugh at the little ones who really believe that they are Superman, Dracula, Anna or Elsa, a Bear, Tiger or some recent movie hero. You never know, you just might see a kid dressed as a bindlestiff, with burnt cork on his face, a baggy jacket and pants, carrying a pillow case stuffed with candy…and some apples.

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