You may have noticed, if you’ve visited a Halloween store or the seasonal aisle of any brick and mortar store in the past week, that all of the sudden the general public has become aware that Halloween is approaching. The gaps in those shelves are getting bigger. Pickin’s are getting slimmer. You may even see Christmas decorations peeking around the corner waiting to move in. At Home Depot even that ridiculous $200 horse skeleton has been sold.
Now, if you’re not a Halloween freak like you and me, this time right now IS the start of Halloween. I’ve spoken to a number of people already who are just now thinking about what their costume might be, which seems unthinkable to me even as a notorious procrastinator. But I do vaguely remember when Halloween was just a day, like Thanksgiving or the Fourth of July. I celebrated it, but I didn’t exactly prepare for it. Not for an entire month.
For the Halloween freak, this late October time is both exciting and somber. There’s a heartwarming thrill to witnessing greater society finally join in on the Halloween celebrations we’ve been carrying on for the last seven weeks. It’s encouraging to see orange lights on the fronts of houses and to hear radio commercials become monster-themed. I don’t have cable anymore, but the one thing I really miss about it (and the $100 monthly bill) is the horror movie marathons playing on just about every channel that ever plays movies.
Halloween fervor is everywhere, but I can’t escape the knowledge of how fleeting our remaining time in this mode has become. I see that countdown text at the top of this page roll into the single digits, and it stings a little. I so distinctly remember, not terribly long ago, wondering to myself if it was too early to start listening to Harley Poe, deciding to save it till the start of September, and consoling myself with Misfits instead. “Can you believe Halloween season is coming again?” was the common refrain. And in what seems like the blink of an eye, I will find myself standing outside on the night of October 31st, late, after the trick or treaters have all gone home. I’ll smell the smokey, cool air, think on the events of the past eight weeks, and finally blow out the Jack O Lantern.
As bitter as that moment can seem, it is also equally sweet. Because while I reflect on the end of another Halloween, the mental replaying of everything I did during this season will seem vast. It will seem like much more than two months of little celebrations. And that’s why on November 1st I’ll be thinking about what the next Halloween will be like, even though on October 24th I was asking myself why I go to so much trouble for so fleeting a period of joy. It always feels worth it, in the end.