I named this website after a lyric in my favorite Halloween song.
Bonfires burning bright, pumpkin faces in the night, I remember Halloween
But naming my record of all things Halloween after that line is so much more than a mere reference. It’s become sort of a mantra among me and a few Halloween-obsessed friends.
As I’ve explained before, I don’t celebrate Halloween the whole year ’round. I take great pains to contain the celebrations to September and October (with some prep work bleeding into August), so, when people recommend great Halloween horror movies in March (or even worse, December), I gladly accept the tip, and then save it until the appropriate season. Because I believe that if Halloween is part of your life every single day, then it’s much less impactful when it actually comes around for real. With years starting to tick by in what feels like weeks now, that’s more evident for me than ever.
That’s also why after this post there probably won’t be much, if any, new content on this site for several months. As soon as November 1st arrives, I make peace with my remorse that Halloween is over, and then happily let it recharge for 10 months.
But, no matter what time of year it happens to be, I always remember Halloween. Just like my many crates full of decorations that sit in the attic for most of the year, Halloween is always a presence in my heart – it’s just normally tucked away deep where I don’t see it, until September 1st when it explodes back into view. And when it’s actually Halloween time, I remember it in a totally different way.
I remember the customs and traditions: Wearing costumes, watching horror movies, carving pumpkins.
I remember the new rituals I’ve made for myself as an adult: Decorating the entire house, having a big party, writing this blog, drinking pumpkin beer.
I remember why Halloween is my “thing”, even though I’m supposed to be too old for that.
Halloween is the most pure remaining connection I have to the feeling of being young and careless. Christmas still gives me a little of that feeling too, but it’s been tainted somewhat. It has baggage. Halloween has no such baggage. The modern American Halloween has always been about nothing more than fun and mischief. There’s a natural punk rock edge to it stemming from the imagery of death, ghosts, monsters and assorted morbidities, which also gives it a slight element of danger, if only in one’s mind. Trick or treating with my friends as a kid was a real adventure. Dress up in costume, wander on foot to strangers’ houses, and return with a sack full of loot. The memories I have of those fleeting years come rushing back each Halloween.
The older you get, the less time you have for frivolities. You get to a point where you have to drag your finger across a calendar and set aside a block of time to do something that isn’t work. Halloween gives me an excuse to create more of those blocks (even though they very often become work…). In so doing, I get a rush of unspoiled joy that gives me the anesthetic to carry on with the operation of life.
The holidays are the weekend of the year. The time for us all to recharge our batteries and let loose a little. Halloween is the Friday night of that analogy. The kickoff, bursting with potential. If you’re reading this today, as I post it, there’s still time to soak it all up. Remember the traditions; remember the meaning.
I remember Halloween.