I have a confession. Several of my updates this month were written weeks ago and held in storage until this month, when I knew I would be too busy to keep new content coming regularly. If you glance at my archives from years past it’s clear that September, not October is my most active writing month here on I Remember Halloween. It shouldn’t be that way, but there are only so many hours in a day. This entry however, is going up the moment I finish writing it.
Tonight’s a rare night of introspection. The Big Party is tomorrow, and at this very moment everything is prepared that can be prepared in advance. When I ran out of things to hang, staple, drape, and clean, I took a stroll around the neighborhood and observed how the outside world does Halloween. It got me thinking. What is this whole Halloween thing even about anymore? I know, I’ve written about this exact subject so many times before – at least once a year on this site.
Before I get into “what it’s all about”, I’d like to share a revelation. In a year, I have many Halloweens. Of course, I’ve already made that clear in my naming convention for the season – Halloween Phase I, II, and III, but that’s painting in broad strokes. In actuality, I’d say I have at least five Halloweens. There’s September 1st, AKA Phase I, AKA the day when I let myself celebrate Halloween publicly, by watching horror movies, drinking pumpkin beer, making unnecessary visits to Spirit stores, and so forth. Then there’s the day the decorations begin, and my home starts to feel like Halloween. There’s Bad Horror Movie Night, which in recent times has started to feel like a preview of the big Halloween party. The fourth Halloween, of course, is the Camp Awesome Halloween Hootenanny, arguably the main event of the whole season. And finally, there’s Halloween night itself, when an old childhood promise is fulfilled and I unleash the full might of Halloween spirit on the trick or treaters. Sometimes there are more than five, but that’s generalizing.
All this to say, Halloween is very important to me. Spreading Halloween spirit is very important to me. Making memories is important. Why? I have no idea. That’s an anticlimactic answer, but there it is. There’s just something about it that, no matter what, always makes my heart feel full. In the past I’ve made numerous attempts to rationalize that feeling – attributing it to the connection with youth, or its status as the entryway to the holiday season, or the sheer visceral fun of it – but none of those logical explanations are totally satisfying. There’s no logical reason why I’d step on a footpad, and an animatronic zombie child would spin its head around, emitting a cartoonish scream and revealing a mouthful of blood, and my response would be to smile widely. But that’s what happens every year. It just IS.
If I could be anything, I might choose to be Sam from the movie Trick R Treat. A being of mysterious origin who has a very specific and defined purpose – to be the arbiter of Halloween. In the movie, he shows up as a silent observer in all things Halloween. He hangs out in pumpkin patches. He goes trick or treating. He watches ghastly Halloween rituals play out. He exacts brutal justice on people who disrespect the rituals of the night.
Around this time, late October, I often start to feel overwhelmed, like I’m losing sight of what makes Halloween so enjoyable to me. But in spite of those feelings, it always pays off in the end. I suppose, without really knowing it, I’m carving out an identity for this time of year.
What I’ve learned tonight is, it’s vital to take a quiet night to reflect on it all, and simply let the tones of the season soak into you, rather than broadcasting them out. Halloween is for everyone, and it’s precisely what you make out of it.