Welcome back, dear reader!
Say, do you feel a bit of chill in the air? Do you hear crunching sounds as you walk, as hitherto unnoticed dry leaves begin to make themselves audible?
Ah, it is well - we have again returned to the waning of the year, and to my favorite time of all: that glorious parade of year-end holidays that comes with the leaves of Autumn, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, wondrous, festive times that bring the promise of new fun, as well as the poignant, bittersweet memories of holidays past.
Yes, bittersweet. I must confess that the number of my own years has now attained a volume so sufficiently vast as to bear down heavily upon my own once-youthful shoulders, as I look around and see how terribly different it all is now, how impossibly distant from my own youth.
For I remember...
My earliest Halloween memories are of course walking down sidewalks just darkening into purple dusk-clothed roads of wonder, beckoning me on through a neighborhood suddenly transformed into a world I had never seen, nearly every home lit and welcome, nearly every porch laden with treats, as, happily costumed and barely restrained by my parents, I run from door to door, reveling in this orange and black wonderland, magically sprung from the most ordinary of places.
And I will always remember.
I will own to becoming a little more calculating as the years progress. All too soon Halloween is not quite as magically unique as before, and all too soon we older kids have become much more obsessed with the amount of "loot" collected, and less concerned with the timeless joy to be found in the season itself.
And then of course one finds oneself in one's teens, when Halloween is simply another excuse to gather with other teens, and even if there is the slightest longing for something more, one suppresses any trace of said longing, that one may appear sufficiently "cool". Oh, how foolish we are, when first we believe we know everything!
And then, magically, at some point in early adulthood, I do remember, and at long last allow myself to revel in the happy thoughts of this lovely season! Now there are proper Halloween parties, some of which I will host, with dead leaves and black cats and ghost stories, pumpkin carving, horrific punchbowls and silent cadaverous guests, as I most furiously and happily attempt to make up for my years of neglect - to balance the books, as it were.
And it is a good thing that there are parties, for trick-or-treating has all but disappeared by the late 1980's. Indeed, even as I began to write about this Haunted Holiday for my very first column, you would be hard pressed to find a local street with more than a handful of costumed kids on the actual night of Halloween.
But we must reconcile to the current order, remember the past now departed with bittersweet fondness, and move on. And so the years pass, Halloween pops up regularly and one does a little something, but as the seasons begin to pass faster and faster, one moves to other things.
And then, suddenly, one finds that one has become a Dad.
And one looks around, and sees just how much time has passed. One sees one's own Mother-in-Law transformed into a perfectly green witch on the porch, doling out treats to the hundreds of children that have appeared out of nowhere, as if supernaturally transported from ancient mid-century times to now.
And now it is but a few short years more, and my daughter, happily costumed and barely restrained by her parents, runs from door to door, reveling in this orange and black wonderland, magically sprung from the most ordinary of places.
And she will always remember...