Gary’s October Gems – The Eat Drink and be Scary Issue
Happy October, everyone. Welcome to the month when we share our bountiful harvest around our Thanksgiving tables and scare the bejeezus out of kids on Halloween. By the time Halloween arrives, the beautiful fall foliage is gone and we are left with skeletal trees with boney branches grabbing at us as we walk along the already darkening streets and parks. Fun. Eh?
I love Halloween! I think it should be a holiday. We could celebrate like they do in Mexico where the Day of the Dead ( Día de Muertos) is a festive and colourful holiday celebrating the lives of those who have passed on – BUT, with trick and treats added. I find that Halloween breaks up the same old, same old routine of our lives. We get to strip out of our everyday personas and become our alter-ego for the day. We can be scary or fabulous or just funny.
Can you believe some people hate doing that? My experience has been that once someone throws on a costume or applies some creative make-up, they usually admit that it was fun. Just ask anyone in my team at i24. Halloween is a big deal at the office, and now on ZOOM. Yes, you could say I apply a little peer pressure, but the results are certainly memorable.
Halloween is the night before All Saints Day. So, at the very first indication that the sun was going down, I’d be at the door in sprint position with pillowcase in hand for the candy harvest.
Preparing for this issue, I did some research (I like to expand my knowledge. It delays the onset of dementia, I hear.) I was surprised to learn that the twilight time of day played a very large part in the Celtic origins of Halloween. For the ancient Celts, November 1st was the new year and on the night before the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. The night of October 31st, the last day of summer, they celebrated Samhain (pronounced Sow-in), when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. Sound familiar?
Twilight creeps me out. It produces in me a sense of dread. A quietness falls like a soft duvet over everything calming the wind and stopping the leaves from rustling. Birds except for crows and ravens silence themselves as if they wanted to be able to hear the oncoming of any danger. I think my uneasiness about the twilight is embedded into our DNA. It’s an evolutionary reaction because the night held countless dangers and mysteries. Give me daytime or nighttime. Ghosts and goblins can stay in that thin slice of time between the two.
I get a kick out of Boo!
Why do we crave the occasional scare, especially on Halloween? We surely don’t enjoy the sweaty palms or cold feet, so then what part, exactly, gives us the kick? According to Prof. Tamar Kushnir, Professor in the Department of Human Development at Cornell University, “a simulated fear is a way to practice and enjoy the experience of being afraid, knowing you’re safe” in reality. In other words, it is “a way of playing with emotion without real cost.” And it’s like the adrenaline rush we get on a roller coaster. We know that we are safe, but our basic instinct to survive is pushing all our fight or flight buttons.
Speaking of scaring helpless children on Halloween…
Not surprisingly, we celebrate Halloween at work. 90% of our staff dress up. It’s a lot of fun. I remember years ago that I would leave work in my costume and head over to my sister, Lynda’s house to help with the handing out of treats. Lynda, also being very much into Halloween, decorated her house to such an extent that it was a beacon for kids for blocks around.
One year I was the Grim Reaper. It was all black with a white face and sheer black netting that covered the eye sockets so that you really couldn’t see in but I could see out perfectly. While handing out treats I had this idea, …” an awful idea, I got a wonderful awful idea!”
I thought, hey, it might be fun to stand next to the stairs leading to the “goodies” door and blend into the decorations. I’d be still as a statue and only when the kids hit the bottom step I would reach out my arms and make a growling, scary noise. Given the partial darkness and the spooky Halloween lighting, I had a blast. And as a bonus, parents got a jolt almost as much as their kids. One young innocent, probably about ten years of age, was so impressed he ran home and dragged his parents back to show them. I recognized him and remained frozen. His parents got impatient and turned to leave at which point, I made an abrupt movement that only he could see. He tried to get his parents back but to no avail. They probably thought he was hallucinating from dipping into his treats early. What fun it was, what wonderful evil fun.
I hope you will enjoy your October to the fullest. Give thanks for the bounty of food and fortune we have and go out and have a blast on Halloween because winter is coming.
Here are your October gems.