Halloween in our neighborhood is extraordinary. There are so many friendly people behind the doors of these houses built in such close proximity to each other, and so many of these houses are decorated inventively and extensively for the holiday. Each year, there are also families from outside the neighborhood who visit for trick-or-treating, so our sidewalks see a tremendous amount of footfall that night. The past few Halloweens, we’ve invited friends (many of whom live in areas of town where the spread between homes is wide) to meet in our backyard and front-load the impending influx of simple sugar with some pizza before walking door-to-door in the early evening, leaving a couple of teenaged siblings at the house to hand out candy. It’s the only annual gathering we host, and we look forward to it every year. I’ve been particularly anticipating this Halloween because it falls on a Saturday, which not only would give me extra time to prepare for the evening event but would also allow for the potential of adding a fun activity to the afternoon for some of our guests to enjoy with us. And because that night falls in the middle of the weekend, it wouldn’t be as critical to get the kids home and settled and in bed to prevent them from awaking as zombies for school the next day; they could stay out a little later, enjoy glow sticks in actual darkness, run off the candy a bit longer, and silence that alarm clock to rise refreshed in a leisurely way: easy like Sunday morning. I mean, how often does Halloween fall on a Saturday when kids are all old enough to appreciate it and also young enough to appreciate it? Answer: once. This year. And, as if all of this weren’t exciting enough, October 31st falls on the night of a full moon, the second full moon of the month! Too good to be true, right? (Spoiler answer: yes.)
Because the world has become most unusual, those plans, like so many others these past eight months, had to change. I don’t feel comfortable taking my kids out to trick-or-treat among what could be thronging masses of people wearing the wrong kind of mask or not wearing any kind of mask at all (who would ever have thought that a bunch of barefaced people would be more terrifying than any gory, ghoulish, or otherwise ghastly costume?), so we’re opting out of the regular festivities. While trying to come up with an alternative plan to find fun for the kids, I began anagramming the word “Halloween”. I play with anagrams for many reasons, but in this case it felt symbolic: if we’re scrambling our plans and reworking the usual order of things; if we’re redesigning and restructuring and reorganizing the bare bones of normalcy; if we’re breaking the raw materials we have on hand into basically amino acid form and building them back up to create unprecedented situational proteins–well, it seems fitting that there should be new words to relate to whatever this process yields. Here is some of what I ended up with:
All Owe Hen
An Eel Howl
An Owl Heel
All Ewe, Hon
Hella We On?
A special one for my very special friend who loves to decorate for Halloween:
And my personal favorite:
O, A New Hell
Which suddenly morphed into
A New Hello
And then I came up with an idea for reverse trick-or-treating: we’ll deliver treats to anyone in the neighborhood who puts up a sign saying theirs is a house where children live. I’ll send an email and invite others to do the same. We’ll wear costumes and walk around in the bright light of day (or maybe drive around in our costumes if it’s pouring rain) with plastic pumpkins full of candy, and we’ll toss it onto porches in the spirit of everything it takes to turn “hell” into “hello”, which sometimes feels like a lot but turns out to be really not that much at all.
How often does Halloween fall on a Saturday? Not very. How often does A New Hello fall on a Saturday in the year 2020? Exactly once in a blue moon.
P.S.: In the photo of my calendar above, you might notice that the paper has a furred look to it inside the Halloween square, between the words “Blue Moon” and “Halloween”. That’s because one of the kids put a sticker there, a black cat wearing a witch hat, which was later removed by said child. I don’t know why it was removed or which child did the removing, but I’m sure there was a very good reason.