I stood in my tie-dye pants, this nasty woman votes tee shirt, a vampire red cape around my neck, and a black witch hat on my head by my front window in the fading light. My face was lit by the glow of my smartphone as I glanced through my feed. It was still a little early for the first of the trick or treaters. The baskets of candy were near my front door and the foyer light was too bright for my eyes.
I walked around the house ratcheting up my step count for the day. The doorbell rang and I all but ran to get the door. I was not disappointed. A two-year-old dressed in a cow onesie sporting a toothy smile reached in and picked one candy. I was appalled. “Take more…” I urged even as her mother said “Just one.”
The baby looked from mom to me and with an impish grin, clutched a handful to my joy. The evening was a repeat with motley groups stopping to take candy, wish me a Happy Halloween, and move on. One child with a scary mask said Boo as I opened the door and I legitimately stepped back in fright. We all had a good laugh and he got to pick a few more than the others.
I turned off the light at 8:00 pm, sat at the kitchen island by myself, and ate paruppu podi sadham while I waited for my Boo Crew to come back with their haul. They did not disappoint. One limped in complaining her ankles hurt from all the walking. The other two scarfed down their thayir sadham and all of them literally slept the moment they were put to bed.
Today morning, long after they were all out of the house, I picked up after them. Pieces of their Halloween costumes, candy everywhere and echoes of “It was the best day ever” ringing in my ears.
In the twenty-odd years I have been handing out candy, this strange festival that celebrates the macabre has grown on me. As I dabble in the esoteric, I learn about Samhain, Dia de los muertos, mahalayam and, all hallows eve. All of these different cultures believe that this time of the year, the spirits commune with us. The boundaries between the living and the dead thin and we get to mingle and reassure ourselves that all is well on the other side.
As I stood in the dark last night after I turned the lights out, I closed my eyes, imagined a thinning of the veil, and for a second felt the presence of the people in my life who have passed on. The power of the human mind is in going places by thought. I asked for their benediction, reassured them that they were in my heart, and felt a little silly.
This little weird holiday has sure grown on me.