It's as inevitable as the rising sun, and it will be here before you can say "boo." Yes, summer is but a memory and October has pushed it's way onto our calendars yet again. Halloween is so close, I can almost taste the candy corn.
Allow me to set the scene:
It's Halloween night. The streets are littered with ghoulish hobgoblins, vampires, witches, ghosts and all sorts of other unholy monsters. The undead are out in full force, diligently patrolling the streets and alleyways, longing to feast on the souls of the living.
Dozens of pint-sized zombies linger at every turn, dispatched directly from hell and forced to roam the earth looking for food. “Trick or treat!” they shout ... but what they really mean is: “I want to eat your brains.”
Yes, it is almost here, and my nostalgia cup runneth over.
To this day, the smell of magic marker reminds me of Halloween. When we were kids, we used to use magic markers to draw pictures on brown paper bags to decorate them for trick-or-treating. We'd draw witches, ghosts, bats, full moons and silhouettes of leafless trees, their crooked branches reaching like bony little fingers across the eerie night sky.
It's amazing how a simple smell can take you back: the sweet scent of fallen leaves, transporting you back to your childhood, playing football in the backyard with your friends while pondering what you want to dress up as this year.
It's uncanny. One good whiff of pumpkin and I'm back at our house on the East Side, carving jack-o-lanterns on the kitchen table, making sure to save as many seeds as possible so Mom can roast them in the oven later.
What is it about this time of year?
Is it the season itself? The fallen leaves that tell us winter is not far away? The chillier temperatures? The smell of wood burning in fireplaces around the neighborhood?
Maybe it's the creepiness of the holiday, the macabre mood that envelops our souls every time the thirty-first of October draws near.
Maybe it's the make-believe world we get to create for ourselves, dressing up as someone or something else, forgoing the monotony that real life brings, if only for a day or two.
For me, I think it's all of these things. But it's something else. It's a time when we all get to be kids again.
As much fun as it was to dress up like goblins and parade around the neighborhood begging for candy, though, it was just as much fun as a young adult, dressing up to go to a party or two; free of our inhibitions, lost in a world of fantasy. Think about it. We got to dress up however we wanted, be whoever we wanted to be.
Somehow, there's still magic left in the holiday. I wonder if I'll ever get too old to enjoy it all. I can't imagine I will. Vampires and witches and zombies don't seem to outgrow it and they're all much older than I am.
The passing of time is the strangest of things. It takes so long, but it seems so fleeting. I think sometimes we get nostalgic just for nostalgia's sake. Maybe we're just addicted to that feeling of looking back. Or maybe it's just me.
Would you go back in time if you had the chance? And would it be everything you remember it was? Was it really so incredible to walk around the neighborhood at night, dressed up as who knows what, trying to fill your bag up with candy so you could go home and relish your bounty?
Yes! Of course it was. Don't be ridiculous. And we'd all go back if we had the chance. Maybe not to re-live the whole of it, but we'd at least go back for a visit.
But you don't need a time machine to go back. You just need to grab a knife from the knife drawer, cut open a pumpkin, remove it's lid and take a deep breath. You'll be back there before you know it.