Halloween has long been my favorite holiday, harkening back to the earliest days of childhood when we would dress up in scary costumes, trick or treat around or neighborhood (without parents), collect huge bags of candy and eat half of it that night when we got home. What’s not to like about that?
My older sister, Pook, got her name because my cousin couldn’t quite pronounce her ‘spook’ costume. My wife, Jan, was born on Halloween. Every year the Love Choir dresses up as their ‘True Self’ and sings in minor keys. My standard costume every year is Count Dracula, inspired by the classic rendition of Bela Lugosi. One year I even had my dentist fashion enamel caps for my canines, so I wouldn’t have to wear those stupid plastic teeth. Best of all, I have taught thousands of school kids the Monster Mash, and I get to vehemently demand, “Vat ever happened to my Transylvania Twist?” When my kids were young, after taking them around the hood, I would rifle their bags for Junior Mints and Reece’s Peanut Butter cups. I still love the candy.
Somehow putting on a mask and pretending to be someone scary or funny, takes a person out of their usual social mask. My wife, Jan, who I mentioned, was born on Halloween, claims that she takes ‘off’ her mask on that day and asks people why they dressed like they are. Now that is a scary question!
I also think it is healthy for kids to trick or treat and meet their neighbors and ask for and receive their treats. I remember as kids we would hit every house in the neighborhood, even those with crabby people living inside. Turns out they weren’t so crabby, and they were happy to see our outfits and give us good treats.
I currently live on a dimly lit street with no sidewalks, so I don’t get many trick or treaters. I can’t imagine living in some neighborhoods, where there is a steady stream of kids coming all night long. I have heard stories of people giving out five huge bags of candy and running out before 8 p.m.
Until I came to California, I had never heard of Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead Mexican holiday celebrated after Halloween, but I love the idea of dressing up skeletons to depict the loved ones who have passed and honor the things they loved in this life. Somehow the scary skeletons of Halloween are transformed into happy loving family members, who come out and dance and play with their living families. What a beautiful way to honor those who have passed, not in a morbid way, but in a way of full celebration.
A good reminder too, that our bodies will one day be reduced to a bag of bones. Which ultimately reminds us to celebrate while we still have meat on these bones and to dress up and “go for as big a bag of candy as you can carry.” The trick is to grab the treats of life! Junior Mints!
Jim Corbett, aka Mr. Music, can be reached at email@example.com.