Sunday, November 01, 2009

The day before All Souls Day 2009

A Halloween Walk – by John Hoffer

The fake fog was thick, and dark too was the night, though at times both were brightened by soft glowing orange lights. There were Mechanical Cackles and digital groans, recorded thunder was pealing from foam molded head stones. Ghouls, witches and monsters were making the rounds, while red devils and demons made giggling sounds.

Bountiful bees and bakers and liches walked hand in hand with candy corn witches. Simmons’ and Berts, tiny Elmo’s and Ernies carried bodiless heads with mass market candies.

And while I was walking, observing these things, a surprising event interrupted the scene. A shooting star streaked a long tail ‘cross the night, drawing a line towards the moon white and bright.  The treat seeking kids just could not bother to take a look upwards to gaze and to wonder.  I did see though, and that’s all that does matter. I saw and I mourned the celestial wanderer.

Its glow was bright orange, like Halloween lights. Its journey cut short as it died in my sight. Now just a memory, like holidays past, like candy consumed a treat that can’t last. Another year gone, new  memories made, though this special memory I hope never to fade.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween, Dia de los Muertos and All Saints Day! Today is the day that launches the Holiday Season. Soon the American tradition of buying or making presents for our family and friends will be at the forefront our thoughts. All of the worries and stress of the holidays will slowly build up until Black Friday when those worries and stresses will be pretty much at their height.  Sales will start to appear in local papers and the Internet deal forums and I will start preparing for the best early morning freebies I can find that day.

For many of us in South Texas, this marks the first day (or at least the first significant day) late in the year when we can expect some reasonably cool weather to come in and stay for the rest of Fall and through the first part of winter.

When the weather is just right on Halloween, like this year, I’m reminded of the years when I was still trick-or-treating in San Antonio. Back in the early 80’s when my friends and I were just young enough to still get away with trick-or-treating but not old enough to drive, we would plan out routes carefully. Comparing notes from previous years we map a route that would skip streets that didn’t yield enough *good* candy, had too few porch lights on, had creepy owners or had houses too far apart.

I recall that last Halloween where the core group of four of five friends, including my next younger brother, last trick-or-treated. After that year a divorce, a change in extra-curricular activities and just growing up broke the group up that had played and planned together for several years already.

We had our map drawn out, our costumes on and the troupe of us headed out with big bags, anticipating what ended up being the biggest haul we’d ever scored. We ended up ignoring that year’s map and wandered the streets, going into neighborhoods outside our own and stopping only when the last house we tried – the lone house on a long street that had their porch light on – turned out to have simply forgotten to turn out that light. We decided to quit for the night when the owner opened door in their robe started yelling at us about common courtesy, knowing what time it was and something about stupid kids.

Thinking and writing about that year is definitely bittersweet. I still know those other guys. They’re scattered around the planet but I get a glimpse into their lives through Facebook. But I never recaptured the feeling that group of kids gave me. Maybe it was an age specific thing, but the discoveries we made together playing games, wandering the neighborhood, exploring drainage tunnels and a hundred other things were amazing. They were new and everyone seemed in synch with how wonderful things were.

It may be that we were just having a kids good time, no responsibilities beyond chores and homework to distract us from the wonders we’d find as we explored and discovered. It may also be that there was a social dynamic that simply clicked for me for no discernable reason. In any case, my memories are fond ones. I probably blocked fights, troubles, things that weren’t as easy and carefree as I remember them, but I am certain that suppressing those memories is part of getting older.

A last thought: when I was finally too old to trick-or-treat, I’d live vicariously through my youngest brother, dressing up in a simple robe with a tall wooden sword I’d made, and taking him from house to house until he was too tired to go on. Going home I’d show him how to sort his candy like my friends and I did when we returned from our marathon outing. I also would tell him about the adventures me and my friends had in previous years.

As I sit here typing on this cool, bright Halloween morning, I can’t help but smile thinking of those early teen year’s Halloween’s and the friends I had then.

Now where is that Christmas list? Oh wait – Thanksgiving! Oh great… Well, another year, more memories to make. Have a great and blessed day.