Friday, November 18, 2011

The Halloween that Wasn't

This year was the Halloween that wasn't. You see, this year, we got an unexpected snowfall a few days before Halloween. Only a few inches of snow, maybe three inches, and it was all melted away in a day or two. In the annals of New England snowfalls, barely anything at all. However, since the leaves were still on the trees, they acted like little hands that grabbed those fat wet flakes as they fell from the sky, weighing down the tree branches. Those branches snapped under the weight, snapped all all across Massachusetts and Connecticut, plunging hundreds of thousands of us into a new dark age.

Now, living by candlelight and sleeping before one's (mostly ornamental) fireplace may seem a romantic and fun notion. And it certainly was, for the first evening. But as the days dragged on without light or heat or power, things got miserable. My neighborhood was without power for six days. Six days! Halloween fell smack in the middle of those six days. Updates from our public safety officials delivered to our cell phones confirmed that Halloween trick or treat had been postponed one week. We were all disappointed, but too busy shivering in the dark to really give it much thought (right after the early snowfall New England was hit with a spell of unseasonably cold nights...for those of us living without heat or power, well, it was not fun).

I had taken a couple of days off from work (as was my custom) to really enjoy the Halloween holiday. I had no grand plans, simply to stay up late and watch a few favorite horror films, maybe take a quiet walk in one of my town's more picturesque and mood-inducing graveyards (being New England, we've got a few of those handy) read a few pages of Ray Bradbury's The October Country in peace and quiet with a steaming mug of coffee by my side.

Instead the holiday was marked by the whine of my neighbors' power generators (unlike those well-prepared souls, we had no such back-up), cold that seeped into your bones, and a pathetic vigil for the impersonal powers that be (the power company) to eventually restore us to the 21st century.

By the time the power came back up, we were several days into November and Halloween had passed. It was not even November first, Dia de Muertos, the Day of the Dead. Perhaps we could have salvaged something of Halloween if power had come up by Dia de Muertos. But no such good fortune. We were rudely ushered in cold and discomfort into November without passing through that spooky, black-and-orange, bat-and-skull festooned archway known as Halloween.

On Sunday, November 6th, our town celebrated Halloween Trick or Treat. Supposedly. It seems that nearly no-one was in the Halloween spirit anymore, since we only got three intrepid trick-or-treaters rapping at our chamber door. Even they seemed a bit downcast as they held out their trick or treat bags...perhaps seeing no-one else about in costume took the wind out of their sails. I rewarded the intrepid three costumed callers with copious amounts of candy (who else was I going to give it to?) and a friendly "Happy Halloween" greeting. But we seemed to be performing our roles (they the children holding out their goody-sacks, me the adult filling the bags with treats) a bit hollowly, as if going through the motions of a play that has already seen its last audience.

So now we look down the calendar towards Thanksgiving and the winter holidays (pick your tradition: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Yule, Winter Solstice...).

Let's hope they turn out better than Halloween, which did not stand a ghost of a chance this year.

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