halloween in a handbasket

Halloween… ain’t what she used to be…. for good or ill. Is it just the neighbourhood or the changing times? When taking The Boy out for trick’or’treating, I experienced a vague yet bitter disappointment in the severe lack of festivity.

I remember my childhood:
* throngs of children covering the streets
* cars unable to get down the road for the crowds and fire crackers
* parents huddled in groups at the end of each driveway with their travel mugs of hot chocolate/coffee/whiskey
* doors perpetually stuck open because endless streams of children keep parading up the front steps
* the sky filled with the smoke of fireworks as groups of once-strangers crowded on front lawns to watch the latest gunpowder-driven display
* passing other motley gangs of kids in the street, and exchanging tips in excited voices: ‘house on the corner – bags of chips!’ or ‘green house is giving out full size chocolate bars’ or the best news in the world when you’ve already trekked a mile: ‘JUICE BOXES!’.

My family continues our regular traditions: chili for dinner, both followed and preceded by stealing candy from the trick’or’treater bowl; Dad carving his epic Renaissance-worthy masterpiece on a lumpy pumpkin; costumes wrenched on in great haste (if their construction is even complete); and a scary movie or four. In recent times, this has been accompanied somewhere in the festivities by the addition of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which The Boy (all of two-years-old) loves. Frank’N’Furter left him transfixed, he loved Eddie (“Ashleigh, a motorbike! ASH! ASH! MOTORBIKE, MOTORBIKE!”), and danced throughout to his little heart’s content. Later, his excitement was only exceeded by running from door-to-door, which only impressed upon me the true value of Halloween: free candy.

Oh Halloween.

Author: Ashleigh Rajala

Ashleigh Rajala is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in numerous journals, both online and in print. Past incarnations of hers include filmmaker, zinester, bookseller, bureaucrat, wayward traveller and commune-dweller. She lives with her husband and an extraordinarily fluffy cat in Surrey BC, on the unceded traditional territory of the Coast Salish peoples.

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