The Death of Halloween

Fall has transcended. As a southerner I am mystified by the changing colors of leaves here, nearly wrecking my car to point out subtle tones in reds, oranges and the elusive purple. I always find this time a more suitable environment for school and research. For me, the setting of my studies has a significant effect on my passion day to day. Whether sitting, like the godfather, next to a lake in autumn studying papers or crunching through leaves on a hike around my apartment to clear my head and conjecture, I find that a cool, colorful fall adds considerably to my production as a student. Contributed to by the recent relaxed summer, many might feel this same way when considering a contrast to the spring semester, which always feels long, tiring and monotonous. Despite this, possibly because the onset of cold winds and frost summons images of a bleak and vapid winter or possibly because over half of all horror films seem to be set in upstate New York, this time of year always seems the harbinger of the feeling of Halloween.

My friends and colleagues seem to enjoy Halloween in the spirit of a mixture between innocent behaviors of candy, costumes, and decorations and adult (literally) behaviors of parties, provocative dressing and avoiding sobriety. Personally though, Halloween is something more reclusive and dark, a mixture of childish enthusiasm for decorations and movies combined with the real desire for something terrifying and supernatural to occur. I could think of few things more interesting than a reality-defying event to occur on or around Halloween night.

Since I was a lonely, cloistered 12 year old, each Halloween has been spent either alone or with a small group of individuals watching Horror movies until dawn, with a giant bucket of candy that goes undistributed because trick-or-treating is a dying social phenomenon. It is sad. Reminiscing about perilous nights roaming through suburbia seeking candy and snacks, threatening vandalism for noncompliance is a supremely enjoyable memory.  I suppose every generation mourns the loss of it’s atrophied practices; no doubt growing up without TV’s, internet, video games and Iphones offered a vastly different and enjoyable set of pastimes that have since faded into the oblivion with lawn darts, lying in the rear dash window of the car, smoking on airplanes and, hopefully soon, lower wages for women.

Where have all the trick-or-treaters gone? I can’t help but feel frustrated that this harmless, if bizarre tradition has lost most of its steam. And what killed it? Urban sprawl? CSI and the paralyzing fear of murderers and sexual predators? Rumors of a few razor blades in candy bars that probably never happened? A health-conscious populous?

Tonight I expect my giant candy bowl will sit unscathed, aside from the occasional skim from myself. I feel like I am watching a once beloved childhood event seep away into the black, desolate bosom of a forgotten lake in the forest where the four teenagers disappeared 10 years ago this very night (or so the script from a horror film might read). But I am glad it comes faithfully each year, at least for now, allowing a genuine excuse to be weird and spooky, reminiscent and childish, a scientist and a believer in ghosts and haunted houses.

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