Wednesday, October 1, 2014

30 Days 'Til Halloween: The most wonderful time of the year

OCTOBER!!! Unquestionably my favorite month of the year, and always has been, for the simple and admittedly self-serving reason that it begins with my birthday and ends with Halloween. I confess, part of the reason why I went ahead and gave myself a week-early head start on celebrating my birthday was because I had my heart set on doing a proper Halloween Countdown this year, and I was trying to minimize the overlap. So here we are, October commences and the countdown is underway!

(But hey, speaking of my birthday, wasn't I going to do some kind of grand retrospective of my four decades on Earth through the pop culture lens? Whatever happened with that? Well, obviously it got sidetracked, and clearly there is pressing business at hand right now so, I don't know, ask me again in November or something.)

I really can't think of any better way to bookend a month, especially not from a kid's perspective, and childhood was when I first formulated an opinion on the subject. People can mount decent enough arguments championing Christmas as their favorite holiday, and I like Christmas an awful lot myself, but I also know that most of the people I've made the acquaintance of who have birthdays within shouting distance of Christmas tend to carry around some not insignificant bitterness about combined celebrations and gifts and so forth. So I'm glad my birthday isn't December 1st. And with all due respect to everyone (including and especially my lovely wife) who was born in July, Independence Day is a fine holiday but not the kind of celebration I look forward to all year long. And having a summer birthday means no special day at school, and the possibility of being away from all your friends on a trip to the beach or something, which can put a damper on a kid's ability to appreciate.

I like Thanksgiving a lot more as an adult than I ever did as a kid, Easter growing up was a weird kind of Christmas-lite (with a shorter break from school, and the same dress-up-for-church requirement as Christmas, made all the more uncomfortable by warmer weather) ... I declare the matter settled at this point. Halloween is a true kid's holiday, and it stands on its own because the rituals associated with it don't overlap with birthdays at all. To quote the classic South Park distillation of the True Meaning of Halloween: "costumes and candy". Whereas for birthdays, it's "presents and cake and ice cream", to coin a phrase. And I do consider myself pretty lucky to have grown up getting all of the above in close proximity every fall.

I only made a conscious effort to combine them once, when I was in sixth grade, turning 11. For my birthday party that year I just had a few friends over for pizza and video rentals, and I went full-on monster movies for the occasion. The double-bill in the basement was Tod Browning's Dracula and Mel Brooks's Young Frankenstein. Honestly I'm not entirely sure we made it all the way through Dracula, which was a bit slow and boring for a roomful of pre-adolescents raised on 80's entertainment, but Young Frankenstein was a big hit.

At any rate, I love Halloween and it is officially Halloween season! Prepare for a daily dose of random babbling about Halloween-related subjects every day this month, and the big night will be here before we know it.

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