Halloween is a festivity I learnt to embrace. In Italy, we have a somber Day of the Dead, that has very little in common with its Mexican cousin – people go to the cemetery to visit their dead, no ghoulish or festive element to it whatsoever.
In England, for the longest time, the reason why they would celebrate Guy Fawkes by lighting bonfires was very hazy to me, and then I always wondered if everybody knew the Gunpowder Plot Guy Fawkes supervised was to overthrow a Protestant monarch in favour of a Catholic one. Come to think of it, the Monarchy might have instigated these celebrations.
It wasn’t until I moved to the States that Halloween hit me with its full force. Despite abhorring costume parties of any type (it goes back to the absence of an inner child in me), I liked the ghoulish imagery of a festivity that, until then, had been just a pumpkin related story in Charlie Brown’s strips. I embraced the pumpkin carving, the trick or treating and, every October 31, I would have my candy bucket by the door, and would take the disruption of my tv evening in good cheer.
It was the end of October when I moved into the house where I currently live and, with furniture still not permanently settled, paintings on the floor and boxes stacked everywhere, I went about the task of stocking up on pumpkins, lighting candles, setting up ghosts on the gate, fingers sprouting up from the flower beds and any other macabre idea I came up with.
Candy stacked by the door, I turned off most of the lights in the house and waited. And waited. Then waited some more. Nobody came. Just the howling of the wind and of the coyotes. How is it possible no children live around here? I thought.
In the morning, I took stock of the winding road I live on, the absence of street lighting, the houses scattered here and there and I marvelled at how I could have thought anybody could have been foolish enough to walk around with small children in tow. They could have been snatched by a coyote, not to mention having to walk for miles to get a decent cachet of candy.
Lesson learned. For the first few years I kept on decorating the house for my personal amusement. This year, with Halloween just three days away, I haven’t even bought a single pumpkin – Monday will be just another evening of uninterrupted tv viewing. Wind, coyotes et al.