It happens every year. Just when I’m enjoying sleeping with the bedroom window open, things outside change. No, I’m not talking about the imminent zombie apocalypse seen so often this time of year on movies and TV. Rather, the temperature unexpectedly dipping down to freezing.
It’s not that I mind sleeping in a slightly chilly room – thank you, blankets and quilts – but when the last weeks of October come around, it’s time to shut the window. If nothing else, to keep my bedside glass of water from icing over.
But I digress. The countdown to Halloween has begun. They’re playing the Monster Mash on the oldies station, and there’s a superfluity of inflatable ghoulies and scary dingle-dangles in front yards. Yes, I said superfluity.
The purpose of those porch and front yard embellishments, as far as I can tell, is to attract as many trick-or-treaters as it takes to empty your stockpile of store-bought candy.
If I may, I trust you collected enough candy to give out on Halloween at the 49ers parade. Sometimes I wonder if all the parades throughout the year are keeping the candy companies in business. I mean, folks like to talk about what Socorro needs, like a bowling alley or a skating rick or whatever, but I’m thinking that if somebody started a candy factory here, there would be no more worries about economic development.
Gone are the days when people gave out homemade candied apples and caramel popcorn balls, and it’s all because of the fear of needles or poison or razor blades hidden inside. I don’t know if that’s an urban legend or not, but I do know those kinds of suspicions first got off the ground with the tampering of Tylenol and Excedrin bottles back in the early 1980s and a bunch of people died of cyanide poisoning.
But whatever the case, the “better safe than sorry” advice is not a bad thing to follow in our crazy, mixed-up world.
As it is with everything else in the world, Halloween itself has evolved over the years. While we still have trick-or-treating and events like Magdalena’s Trunk or Treat and the Fall Fun Fest at the plaza, traditions like the kids starting a bonfire in the middle of the street in the movie Meet Me in St. Louis are generally frowned upon today.
Having said that, simple trick-or-treating has also undergone changes, like during World War II when children were not allowed to trick-or-treat because of a sugar shortage. Even so, today, some communities have adopted age ordinances for trick-or-treating.
In a recent poll I saw on the internet, over 9,000 people were asked, “How old is too old to trick-or-treat?” While 47 percent said “never,” and 19 percent said between ages 15 to 16. A poll by Slate found that 40 percent thought 12 should be the cutoff.
Weirdly, a law in Chesapeake, Virginia, says that they must be 12 and under or be fined $100 and a possible jail time of six months. An ordinance in Belleville, Illinois, uses the legalese-inspired term “Halloween Solicitation” prohibiting kids over 12 from wearing a mask, and states that 9th graders or above can’t “appear on the streets, highways, public homes, private homes, or public places in the city” for trick or treating.
And so it goes …
Speaking of visitations, don’t forget Dias de Los Muertos, the Days of the Dead, which has nothing whatsoever to do with movies or TV shows, but a celebration of life, acknowledging death, and the honoring of family members who have passed on.
Appropriately, Dias de Los Muertos is next Wednesday and Thursday. And that’s followed on Sunday by another special day – one I just invented for the occasion – called Dia de Los Cambio de Hora. We celebrate that one twice a year, actually, by springing forward and then falling back again (like me getting out of bed every morning).
But I, again, digress.
Remembering the dead and the continuity of life in our children, Days of the Dead encompasses All Hallow’s Eve, All Soul’s Day, and finally All Saint’s Day. Celebrated for hundreds of years, it has taken many forms, none of which include zombies, but rather strings of decorative cut papers, candy sugar skulls, funny skeletal figures, and marigold flowers.
I’m particularly partial to the candy skulls.
Anyway, feel free to welcome into your home the spirits of your ancestors and loved ones who have passed on. Personally, there are a couple of them that I’d rather not see wafting in through the front door because one will be asking me for money, and another one will talk my ear off about politics.
Excepting them, I say, come on in, Mom, Dad, and Grandma and Grandpa, and sit a spell and let’s talk about the good ol’ days before cellphones, emojis, and un-social media.
No apps or passwords are required.