Monday, October 31, 2011


It’s Halloween. Two days ago it snowed, an unheard of weather event for October in Northern Virginia. I assume the local Fox station will use this to bolster their opposition to global warming (actually, my area got the tail end of the freak storm. In other places North of here, hundreds of thousands of people were without heat or light.) Tonight as I was walking home, a couple of kids in store-bought costumes offered me well-handled Milk Duds.

There is never a lot of kids trick or treating in my neighborhood. My house is on a street that, over the years, has become a thoroughfare with speeding cars and trucks making it a dangerous place for pedestrians to wander. Parental fear has also played a role in making this holiday one celebrated by increasingly few unescorted children. There are far too many stories of razor blades in candy bars and needles in apples. Many such tales, I think, are urban folklore but whether they’re fact or not is irrelevant.  There are predators. In my county, the police had apparently advised all persons convicted of child-related crimes to not participate in this holiday. I’m not sure how such an edict can be enforced, but its intentions are worthy.

For me, Halloween is the beginning of the silly season. From October 31st  to March 10, I have a tendency to err toward the sad and the maudlin.  For several years now I’ve tried to identify when I started feeling like this, when and why this dislike for holidays took roots and grew.  I can think of a host of possible reasons but none are satisfying. The one closest to what may be the truth is that this time of year is when families celebrate their unity. Thanksgiving in particular—a day of gross overindulgence—is almost tribal. It is the quintessential American family holiday, and the late columnist Art Buchwald immortalized in all French-speaking countries by describing it as Le Jour de Merci Donnant starring the courageous Capitaine Kilometre Deboutish .

Stores will begin their Christmas advertising tomorrow. I suppose this is necessary though I personally don’t know a single person who goes Christmas shopping before December 23rd. No, wait, I take that back. I think I might know one—she does all her shopping online—as well as two or three who actually like Christmas carols. Personally, I’ve long felt that the little drummer boy gets way too much airtime.

New Year, of course, is amateur night for anyone who once abused alcohol or controlled substances.  We stay home, preferring to avoid the carnage, the arrests, the regurgitation and hangovers. We’ve been there and done that, and we don’t need a special day honoring our former major shortcoming.

St. Valentine’s celebrates gift-cards, chocolate and the color red. It is perhaps the one time of the year when men outnumber women at Victoria’s Secret. According to Wikipedia, almost 190 million roses are sold in the three-day period surrounding February 14th. It is also believed that some fifteen percent of women report sending themselves roses for Valentine’s Day. Apparently nothing says “I Love You” like dead vegetation.

March first is my birthday, and I don’t see cause for commemoration there. March 10th is the anniversary of my entering a twelve-step program, and frankly, celebrating the day I decided to stop being a f*ck-up seems kind of silly.

So there you have it. You can have your holidays. I believe in Bastille Day, the 4th of July, Napoleon’s birthday and May 12, when Louis XVI ascended to the throne. And of course I will celebrate for August 8th, which honors the British Navy’s victory over the Spanish Armada.

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