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The grinch who stole my Halloween

By Kerry L. Marsala
web posted October 31, 2005

Spooks, pirates, goblins, and ghouls are upon us once more.  The autumnal winds are swirling around the fall colored leaves as they drift from their tree branches and a nip of something wicked this way comes is floating upon the air. It is time for deciding tricks or treats and to curl up on our sofas to watch, It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

The autumnal solstice has sent its harvest moon and its beauty captivates us. Spellbound it ascends leisurely into the blackened sky- for the time of tricks or treats has arrived.  It is now the season of haunting, as spine tingling eerie stories fill our minds. Delight spreads across the faces of adults everywhere as they view the childhood costumes of frightful fair. The reward for diligence pays off for the strident trick or treater-  as their heavy candy bags are lugged home and dumped on the monster’s, ballerinas or pirate’s bedroom floors. 

Do you recall separating the ones you liked from the ones you would give your younger sibling who could not go trick or treating because they had the flu?  Painstakingly we would count our favorites, and then find the perfect place to stash our beloved delicacies of sugar- vowing we would make it last until the following Halloween.

Reflecting back, I reminisce about my carefree childhood days. The days when we would make our own costumes from whatever we could find around the house.  How we planned for months, asking our moms to save her cast offs of scarves and earrings.  Children everywhere requested of their dads not to throw away any empty cardboard boxes and to grant us left over dryer vent hoses that he could not use. Our grandiose costumes all were judiciously pinned, sewed, or glued together.  Proudly we stepped into our homemade costumes; we never cared if they sat a bit askew.  Then all of us would head out the door and join in with other neighborhood kids, like a pack of hungry wolves on the prowl, we went hunting for our candy feast.   Charging onwards, knocking on our neighbors doors, and shouting with chocolate-toothed grins-"Trick or Treat!"  That thrill of receiving piles of delectable sugar laden goodies- all melodiously tumbling into our weighty Halloween bags was total unabashed- euphoria. 

Can you recall simpler times when the modern world had not reached its grimacing knurled hand of modernism into what was once a simple and unadulterated season of good times? 

As I had found myself at the end of July amidst all the back to school products at my local discount store I froze in my tracks in terror as I saw the creature of the black lagoon, AKA… modern marketing… had already sprung up six aisles full of Halloween junk.  The southeast corner of my favorite discount store had become a frightful nightmare of plastic synthetics, and cheaply manufactured pieces of Halloween garbage (mind you it was still 108 degrees outside and it was only July). 

Quickly I grabbed my package of number 2 pencils, three packs of college ruled notebook paper and ran away from the plethora of made in China barrage of supposed Halloween goodies.  I felt my heart quicken to a beat of horror as I realized modernism had become the grim reaper that was trying to kill my childhood holiday.  Perhaps this was my debut in the next Jason horror flick… all I could do was scream.

The pull of childhood memories though is a powerful one I wanted to participate in the ritual of trick or treat so all too soon- just like in the scream movies- I was drawn back to the same store in early October.  I wanted to see what I could find amongst the synthetic world of the 21st century.  

Halloween was now four weeks away, but as I looked around, I thought it was going to be Christmas next week.  The Halloween fair that was left had been condensed from six aisles to one and half aisles.  Jingle bells and sleigh bells rang out next to a talking skull that sang, "Bad to the Bone."  Evidently, the Grinch Who Stole Christmas had stolen the Halloween section too.  Oh, well, perhaps amongst the glittering gold and ho, ho, ho I can still find a spook or two. 

The one and half aisles left have been slaughtered by the hands of those who care nothing of respecting property.  Costumes, wigs, make-up… all lay strewn, torn, and desecrated on the floor of the stores aisles, a gruesome site to behold.  Stooping over, I picked up something that resembled a Batman mask, when all of the sudden I heard a blood-curdling scream the next aisle over.  Then a throaty ghoulish howl of, "I want that Care Bear costume now!"  A few moments later, a mom came around the corner of the aisle I was on and our eyes met for a split second… her eyes were void of life- as if a zombie glaze covered her once lively blue eyes. The ghoul that had been howling for the Care Bear costume evidently got what he wanted… there was a sinister smile upon his lips.  I scooted my cart over quickly and let the demon child and his enslaved zombie mom pass me by. 

Moving on to the candy aisle… remember Baby Ruth’s, 3 Musketeers, and Snickers candy bars coming in full size and being dropped into your Halloween bag?  That is what I was on the hunt for; alas, they only come in "fun size" and with a sticker price, which reflects a decent cut of Prime Rib.  Flipping through the bags of various candies I find little to my liking, what happened to the good stuff?  What is this junk they are pushing us to give the little trick or treaters now?  Thinking I should have checked my account balance to see if I could afford a small mortgage to purchase enough candy for the neighborhood children, I decide to forgo modernism… I am going to go home and make home made Halloween cookies, popcorn balls, and caramel apples to give out to the kids. Who cares if I am up to 2 or 3 am- I am not letting the death angel called modern times destroy what I hold dear…

It is now 4 am… and the last caramel apple has been wrapped… Happy Halloween you little goblins… all of you are worth it, yes even the demon child disguised as a "Care Bear."

Kerry L. Marsala is a freelance journalist who is terrible at being patient enough to check punctuation and grammar. She figures if Bernard Shaw can get away with it, she might have a chance too.


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