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All hallows eve

It’s Hallowe’en, a perfect evening for it – blustery but not too cold. Outside my office window, the gold leaves of my front yard maple tree are showering into the air. I don’t know if it’s all the rain or just that I was out of the country so long, but the leaves look more spectacular than usual this year, especially the red of the Japanese maples – scarlet, blood-red, unearthly.

On a walk around the neighbourhood this afternoon, I marvelled at how much effort people put into this festival – gravestones, giant spiders in vast cobwebs draped on trees, skeletons looming at windows, ghosts hanging from balconies, soundtracks of groans and screams ready for the first visitor. Dora has made a low passageway from the sidewalk to her door out of orange webbing with ghastly creatures hanging inside; Mary has a dummy with crazed blinking eyes perched on her veranda. It’s just before six, and very soon, about a thousand children will begin their door to door march, opening their bags – Trick or Treat!
Yes, a thousand, at least. They come north from Regent’s Park, the huge housing project nearby, and south from St. Jamestown, the big high rises. Our first Hallowe’en here, no one had warned me and I’d run out of candy by 6.20. Each year we needed more, until I had six hundred little candy bars waiting by the front door. Once the kids started coming, it was a continuous flood for about two hours, until the candy had run out, and I’d turn out the lights and hide.
But tonight, I’m hiding already. I’ve done my duty with Hallowe’en – more than 15 years rushing around at the last minute, trying to get some food into the kids as we applied fake blood, black eyes, sparkles and fangs, and then dashing to the door to begin the distribution. Tonight, across town, Anna is going out as a ho train – don’t ask – and Sam as some sort of greaser. Last year he was a porno star with a huge black moustache and aviator sunglasses. I remember when he was a spaceman, a fireman, a clown, and Anna a princess and a Care Bear. Then one year she wanted to be a dead bride or Madonna, and I knew that life had changed.
Jean-Marc and Richard down the street are having everyone on the block over once the candy has run out – 7.30 or 8. We are encouraged to go in costume and I couldn’t resist, since I happen to own a plastic Viking helmet with giant horns. So I’m going in the helmet as a Viking, with a shield made out of a garbage can lid covered with tin foil, a spear that used to be a curtain rod, and my mink coat flung savagely across my shoulders.
Fun. As a former actress, I always pooh-pooh Hallowe’en – I used to dress up in other people’s clothes for a living, I’d cry – but actually I love it. Why else store a collection of vintage treasures from Goodwill? Anne-Marie came over today, desperate to find a costume for a party tonight – everyone has to go as their “future fantasy.” Her husband has borrowed a friend’s sheikh robes and headdress and is going as an oil magnate. What could we come up with for Annie? She mentioned Coco Chanel, and I was off – red braided jacket, ropes and ropes of pearls, big sunglasses and big black hat, Chanel purse with gold chain, red leather gloves, Chanelly shoes – she looked chic et fabuleuse. Next year, maybe that’s what I’ll be, and she can borrow my plastic horns.
Out my window now, squeals and shouts, the first arrivals ringing the doorbell across the street – a little rabbit with pink nose and white ears, a witch with a big black hat, a fairy with little pink wings – how great is tradition! – holding orange pumpkin bags for their treats. Time for mine – a big glass of merlot in the dark. Happy Hallowe’en to you all, from one happy, mean Viking.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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