Monday, November 1, 2010

"Whoa, dude are you stoned?"... Halloween Musings

Today, November 1st is All Saints Day also know in medieval days as All Hallows Day thus the night before was known as All Hallows Eve now abbreviated as Hallowe’en. The best thing about All Saints Day as a young boy attending Catholic school was that we got the day after Halloween off while the public school kids had to go to school. Sure, we had to go to mass in the morning but we still had the rest of the day to play and scoff down our score from the night before’s Trick or Treating. Getting all those extra holy days off was the bonus of going to Catholic School; we even got out a week earlier for summer holidays. This almost made up for the horror that was Sister Miriam Henry. *shudder*
But today I’m not writing about All Saints Day, I’m going to waste your precious time reading about my memories of Halloween.
Halloween was not as big of a celebration in my early days as it is today; it was primarily a night for children to dress up in their costumes for a few hours and go door to door accumulating candies in an old pillow case. Then it was back home to dump out the sack and separate the goodies by category; chocolate bars, roll candy, chips, apples and those horrid Halloween Kisses, sort of a wrapped molasses candy. Who eats those things! Yuck!! At least candy corn may have tasted terrible but its tricoloured design was kind of cool.
By the end of elementary school, the idea of Halloween was put on the back burner for a few years. My next big Halloween memory came when I was in Grade 12 when Marla’s Halloween Party was the biggest event of the fall social calendar. Everybody that was anybody attended putting great effort into their costumes. Being on the tallest dudes in the Class of 74, it was only natural I dressed as the Jolly Green Giant. The funniest thing happened walking home from the party in the rain and some random guy comes up and wants to share my umbrella for a bit until he took one look at my green face and exclaimed “Whoa, dude, are you stoned?”.
Halloween lost most of its allure for the next fifteen or so years until my son, Bryan, (aka – The Crown Prince) came along. I have great memories of him and his cousin, Nick dressed in identical penguin costumes made lovingly by their grandmother. This is the only costume that I ever kept in hope that the one day the Crown Prince’s Crown Prince or Crown Princess will get to wear it one Halloween. Of course, as concerned parents we careful sifted through his haul of goodies separating out all those evil Mars and Snickers bars. Everyone knows that Mars and Snickers bars are the most tampered with Halloween candy. This is a fact because I read it somewhere on the internet. So parents should make the sacrifice and destroy them by chewing them thoroughly and swallowing. ‘Shut up, kid eat your delicious Halloween Kisses and Candy Corn.”
During the early 90’s while travelling in the States in early October, I began to notice a shift in the wind regarding this day. People in southern California were decorating their houses with all kinds of ghoulish paraphernalia and lights equalling those we would see at Christmas. It was a far cry from the hand carved Jack-o-Lantern we put out on the porch.  This trend slowly crept northward over the next decade. Another Halloween tradition started about the same time in southern California; Halloween events at theme parks the first being at Knott’s Berry Farm or Scary Farm as it was renamed for the season in Buena Vista. My wife, Lorraine and I had the pleasure of having the crap scared out of us twice there.
We took possession of our townhouse here in North Vancouver by coincidence on All Saints Day in 1994. The night before we decided to drive by and make sure the tenants the previous owner had trouble convincing to move were indeed vacating. At the entrance road to the complex is a large green space shared by three equally large strata groups. We were delighted to find that the neighbours in the area were putting on a huge fireworks display. This was a tradition that continued for several years and was finally put to rest. Something about permits and a burning bush, go figure!
The following Halloween, Lorraine instigated our tradition of decorating for Halloween and started a friendly rivalry with our next door neighbour, Pam. This turned into an obsession for the two of them (and me) and developed into turning our little breezeway into a haunted tunnel complete with boiling cauldrons, creepy music and suffocating fog. A few years later, Mona moved across from us in our four unit square. My first question to her was “How do you feel about Halloween?” Her eyes lit up announcing she too was a ghoul junkie. Now our breezeway became the place to visit in our corner of the earth, getting crazier every year.
Sadly, we lost Lorraine to cancer in June of 2008. About a week after Lorraine had passed, Pam told me a cute story about the three young girls across the road. Their mom, sat them down and told them the news about Lorraine and the first question was “But what’s going to happen to Halloween? Lorraine was the best witch!” It was then that Pam, Mona and I knew we had to do it at least one more time for Lorraine. And we did including a photo of Lorraine in her witch’s attire in my window.
Last year we realized we were becoming tired and all three of us scaled back immensely but still had fun. Mona moved away this summer so the triumvirate was finally dissolved.
Last night I had fun introducing our new neighbours to the joys of All Hallow’s Eve in VR10 and yes, Lorraine was still in the window.
Just as Lorraine was the catalyst for Halloween, Christmas was my holiday for decorating; think Walt Disney meets Clark Griswald and you can imagine my living room at the holiday season. That’s a story for another day.
Thank you and enjoy the rest of your day here in the Magic Kingdom. Oh crap, wrong theme park! ;-)


  1. Excellent, Life sure has changed in the last few years. I will forever remember your darling wife and my time in the four square on Halloween, and Christmas, and well all the damn holidays, It was always fun to see whose window was up first. I have to say I was always trying to beat Pam, because you always seem to do things in the middle of the night.
    Cheers my friend, thanks for the invite to your blog

  2. "Kisses, sort of a wrapped molasses candy. Who eats those things"

    I do!! LOVE those candies!! You're just a wrapped molasses candy snob.

    Loved this story about you and your ghoulish neighbors. :))

  3. Heehe,"Crown Prince",I love it!

    My daughter only received ONE of those molasses candies...ONE. I seem to remember getting them by the hundreds. Oddly,I was kinda sad for her.
    They're gross..but still..why do I have to suffer alone?!

    I've come from Colleen:) Lael's the name. It's nice to meet you!

  4. Love the ghoulish taste in decor, but the puppy dog suit? Should be a shark suit next year, Dennis!

  5. @ Mz. Elle - Thanks for following me. Any friend of my cuz' is a friend of mine. (except when they want to borrow money! lol!)
    @ Tammy - I'll have to work on that!