Halloween. The definitive sign that the holidays are approaching. If I could take a vacation from the whole business, I would. I hear the backside of the moon is peaceful….
I resent Halloween most viscerally. It’s permission for people to dress up and act with appalling stupidity. As a Christian who’s read entirely too much history, its origins as a Celtic day of the dead bothers me (yeah, I went there. I’m a stick-in-the-mud, no doubt about it). It’s one redeeming feature used to be the candy I could sneak from the candy bowl. Now that I’m diabetic I have to leave it alone. Thus the world constricts and grows dull.
In ancient Rome there was a festival known as the Saturnalia, held around the winter solstice, which resembled Halloween in some ways– both days are what sociologists call ‘liminal periods’, in which some of the social rules are relaxed and roles reversed. In Rome it was a period in which Romans drank, gambled, and in which masters, for one day, would change places with their servants and serve them. One famous Roman senator couldn’t stand it, and had a sound-proof room built in his villa to which he would retire and carry on with his work while everyone else in the neighborhood got plastered.
I feel you, brother.
I admit, Halloween was more fun when my daughter was little. When she was a toddler she was adorable in her different costumes; when she got older she exhibited considerable creativity, such as when she was the Statue of Liberty, or Miranda from The Tempest (yeah, my kid did Shakespeare for Halloween. Wherever you are, feel my paternal glow).
Now, though, she’s grown out of trick-or-treat, and prefers to hang out with her friends. I’m generally left with the pumpkin-carving duties and handing out the candy to children who shouldn’t be having that many sweets that late. It’s difficult to focus on Halo or World of Tanks when there’s a knock on the door every ten minutes.
Now, the forecast for tonight promises a good deal of wind and rain, which might cut down on the traffic; but this is Seattle, and in truth nothing short of a white-out blizzard will stop kids from showing up. I should move to the Amazon….
I guess I’ll survive. I always do. It gets tiresome, though, being the only sober man at the Saturnalia.
And this is just the warm-up for Christmas. Just wait until you hear what I’ve got to say about that one.