This is Halloween. I mention this because there are not as many outward signs as we have had in the past. Like so many activities and experiences, this holiday has been subsumed by restrictions brought on by the global pandemic. Ghosts and goblins and Marvel super heroes of all shapes and sizes are sitting out this year, and the warm glow of Jack-O-Lanterns is missing from the front porches of homes across this great land of ours.
At this point, I was going to say something about the "die-hards" who insist on putting out all their Halloween decorations, but this year in particular it seems that phrase my be a little too on the nose-y. The reason that all of our Harvest Festival fun has been curtailed is inexorably linked to the ever mounting number of casualties due to the previously mentioned global pandemic. There will be no parade of costumes around the block near our school this year. Parties, if there are any, will be taking place in virtual spaces where those awful jugs of Tampico punch will be consumed within the households that purchased them. Cupcakes will be eaten, most assuredly frosting first, in the homes where they were so lovingly decorated. If your parents were so dedicated to tradition that they took you to Target to buy that new costume for this year, chances are it will be photographed primarily in your native habitat: your living room.
No one wants to be the voice that announces that Halloween has been cancelled. Cities and counties are "strongly advising against" trick or treating and gatherings outside your limited social bubble. In a country that refuses to issue a mandate for masks, it is not surprising that nobody is willing to stand up and say that we should all just hold on to those Iron Man helmets and Little Red Riding Hoods until next year. There is little doubt that there will be a number of super-spreader events as a result of our national lack of restraint. Flu season is upon us and the idea of a group of strangers pawing the same bowl of fun size Snickers should put us all on edge in the best of years.
This is not that. 2020 is the year of living dangerously, and my mind drifts to those yards where the annual decorations have sprung up. Rows of plastic headstones, some of them with humorous names or citations, mostly saying "Rest In Peace." Which brings us back around to the two hundred twenty thousand Americans who won't be celebrating anything anymore. Their spirits should most righteously haunt us for years to come.
And tomorrow, with the arrival of Dia De los Muertos, we can pine not for those missed bags full of treats or yet another excuse for binge drinking, but for the souls of the departed. They are the reminder. They are the reason there was no celebration this year.