Friday, October 24, 2014

Pre-Digital Holiday

            So, here it is a week before Halloween, the streets are filled with people moving to and fro dressed as ghouls, goblins, zombies, werewolves, vampires, cups of coffee, mad doctor’s, zombie killers and serial killers. The weather is cooler, the leaves on the ground crunch pleasantly under my boots and on television there is seemingly no end to any and all horror movies available to the young fear mongers and elder fear aficionados.
            It is truly one of my favorite times of year. Ghost stories abound as people light camp fires in their back yards and celebrate the ending of summer and the beginning of the end of the year. So what am I doing? For the past two weeks I’ve been carrying elves, Victorian figures, Christmas trees, train sets, sound systems and garland by the acre. Yup, I’ve been getting ready for the impending festival of green and red lights, mint flavored everything and an unabashed consumer mentality that borders on the obscene.
            It appears that I’m not the only doing this however; Nope, not at all. Two weeks ago when we started all of this, on a trip to the local big box hardware store, there were two aisles dedicated to the season of overindulgence. Yet, only one small display, not fifteen feet square for the night of the dead. It is a bit disheartening to me. I suppose it’s because I don’t have much time in my life now as I did when I was younger to immerse myself into the make believe culture of terrifying thrills.
            It’s not that I ever really dressed up in excess. Not like some folks. Nah, that wasn’t me. I just enjoyed people watching. Sitting back in a pub or at a party and marvel at the creativity people put into their costumes. I also enjoyed popping some popcorn, flipping channels to find a good or fun horror movie, or curling up with a nice scary book and in some cases, sitting by a campfire with friends and family telling ghastly stories and even some funny ones of days gone by.
            I suppose what I’m trying to say is that when I was younger, had too much time on my hands and not enough work and responsibility, I lived in the moment. Most of those moments were at this time of year. The time, in the Midwest, when all the farm work was pretty much done, food has been canned, dried, smoked and stored. The cords of wood, all chopped, split and stacked from one end of the house to the other and stood six feet high and four logs deep. Enough to keep the cold wind of Wisconsin winters from permeating the house.
            No matter where I went back then, during the fall season, I always seemed to end up surrounded by friends and sometimes family. Although some friends seemed like family and some family didn’t seem like any relation of mine at all.
            Then there were the Octobers where I spent with a special lady friend just curled up under a blanket on the couch, sipping beverages and watching the latest installment of Halloween, or Nightmare, or Zombie series. Nights that ended in sleeping with the lights on because she was a bit more afraid of the creepy crawlies than I. Nights where I had to call home and tell them I was not going to be home but instead I’m spending the night at a friend’s house.
            Of course, my memories also bring me to the days when I was a kid back in Green Bay, where me and my buddies would rush home from school, don our costumes, grab pillow cases and rush out to meet each other under the street light just to go door to door demanding candy in exchange for not egging the house once the darkness set in. After our initial round, we would switch costumes and head out again. After all, most folks would remember a five foot tall Lone Ranger and a four foot five tall Batman, but when you look and see a five foot tall Batman and a four foot five tall Lone Ranger, they readily give more candy. Then again, maybe they did know and just didn’t care.
            Then later, sitting in our basement, our candy splayed between our legs the trading began. No one wanted the gum, everyone wanted the Snickers and only one or two wanted the 3 Musketeers. Yeah, we swapped our goods and no one ever fought about it. We respected each other tastes. Although one of our crew loved the Pixie Stix, while the rest of us thought they were the worst damn things in the world. His name was Ricky and he would give away whatever he could to get every tube of powdered color sugar he could get his hands on. We were more than happy to give it to them.
            Yup, I have plenty of fond memories of this time of year. As well as a yearning to make more. To experience more, to fill the void in my heart for this time of year. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon. How could it? As a man in the middle age of his life, much like most people at this station, there are bills to pay, plays to see, work to perform and four hours of rest to get to each day.
            Hell, in this world of instant information, streaming videos, dvr’s, gratification of anything you want at the tip of your fingers, shouldn’t we have more time to live? Wasn’t the information age supposed to simplify our lives? Give us more freedom? Not constrict our lives to the point where you can barely breathe without being charged data usage rates by some cellular company, information delivery system or satellite or cable service.
            Which brings me to another point, or epiphany, I believe that is what I miss, yet in some strange way I seem to be a part of the greater problem. After all, I spend time writing these blogs and communicating with you instead of seeking out the things I miss from my life before the digital age and the age where Christmas had yet to take hold of the American people as soon as the school year starts.
            Maybe, one day in the hopefully near future, we as a group of disgruntled consumers, horror fans, family units and all around citizens have had enough, we will stand up and with one great voice shout “Enough!” We want our holidays separate yet equal. Give us time to enjoy the moments that lead up to the holiday without forcing the next one, two or three down our throat. No more commercials for car sales, furniture sales, toy sales, and clothing sales to celebrate a holiday whose roots are anything but commercial. After all, to me at least, each holiday is supposed to be a time of reflection for that particular event.
            Of course these are just the reflections and opinions of a middle aged man who sits on his porch hoping and praying he gets to yell at some kid to get off his lawn.

Have a great week and enjoy some good scary movies and stories.

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