Curing the Post-Halloween Blues

Every November 1, without fail, I’m down in the dumps. The moment I wake, I […]

Ian Olson / 11.8.19

Every November 1, without fail, I’m down in the dumps.

The moment I wake, I am viscerally aware in the cilia and flagella of my cells that Halloween is gone, having slipped away with the other faithful departed we commemorate on All Saints’ Day. Anymore, even as I’m trick-or-treating with my family, the sadness is already creeping along the periphery of the fun, scowling at the edges of the day’s festivities and whispering its bone-dry taunts among the dead leaves. All this is about to pass, I think. And with the first ray of sunlight brightening the shadowed corners of our home the following morn, the spookiness gives up the ghost and with a sigh dissolves into nothing.

I love spooky stuff. No, you see, that’s still not it, because I love spooky. Like, I am spooky. I am spooky af. I’m the guy you get goofy text messages from in June counting down to October. I’m the guy who’s been accumulating elements of his Halloween costume since February. I’m the guy who has the scary movie festival for October planned out and circulated in May. I want to go to all the haunted houses. I want to track down the real haunted houses and forests and abandoned asylums and find the ghosts. I work on new Halloween playlists every year to keep the spooky pumping every nanosecond of October.

I love October, because for one chilly, leaf-encrusted, twilit month my enthusiasm for spooky is not merely tolerated but brazenly displayed nearly everywhere I turn. Homes which house the most straight-laced, law-abiding citizens transform October 1 into spiderweb-shrouded crypts of the forsaken strewn with specters and skeletons and all manner of haunted, hallowed fun. Local advertising shifts to accentuate the creepy, and television stations launch month-long campaigns of scary programming. Spooky is given the keys to the city for thirty-one days straight every year, and I can’t get enough of it.

The air itself seems sweeter to breathe as I take in the drifting scents of bonfires carried aloft by crisp, autumnal breezes. Cold, misty October rains only beautify the atmosphere further. It’s like the stage is set for a morbid menace to arise.

Why do I take such delight in all this, though? And the answer is, I really truly, truly don’t know. I only know that as far back as I can remember, I always have. From the first moment I caught an episode of Count Duckula on late-80s Nickelodeon and started eating Count Chockula for breakfast and thrilled to clips of Nosferatu and the Creature from the Black Lagoon in Muppet Babies, I have loved the horrific and frightful. Beginning when I was nine my grandmother would bake a cake each year to celebrate Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday because I was that guy. I was talking Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento when my friends at school were geeking out about the Final Destination series. (Please.)

But like clockwork, the month’s sands run down the hourglass, swifter and swifter each year. No sooner is it October 1, it almost feels like I blink, and it’s November already. And the post-Halloween blues kick a little harder each time.

Look, I enjoy other holidays too. I get pretty sappy and sentimental for Christmas, so it’s not like I have this blackened, hardened heart against gaiety and goodwill towards men and all that. But it seems like this electromagnetic field goes up the second the clock strikes midnight Halloween night and everyone’s needles immediately reorient towards merry and bright. And there I am, still hungover with Halloween horror, shell-shocked by the Christmas decorations suddenly, utterly replacing the Halloween stuff I had just seen only eight hours prior. I feel like a hapless medieval traveler who’s been waylaid by fairies and returns to the human world decades later though it only feels like an hour to him.

And then there I am, lying on my back, staring at the ceiling and remembering trick-or-treating as a kid late into the night, hunting vampires and ghosts, stalking through the cemetery, running home, secretly fearing that the echoes of my footfalls were actually the sound of an undead pursuer. I covet that pure frightened fun I can’t fully return to, and I wish that my love for it was better tolerated the other eleven months of the year.

But the joke might actually be on everyone else. Because with Advent approaching, we are called to focus upon the Four Last Things with particular attention. Traditionally, Advent began on November 11, forty days to not only remember the time of waiting for Jesus Christ’s first coming into the world — but we bifocally look at the returning past to anticipate his second coming. November 1, of course, is All Saints’ Day, on which we commemorate our older brothers and sisters in the faith who have preceded us in death. Which makes me wonder: it might not be that the membrane between the spheres of the living and the dead has closed again All Hallows’ Night — perhaps that is the night it truly flings open, admitting us a halting step into their world, an interpenetration of spheres that continues on with the eternal Word (spooky warning) assuming flesh to (spooky warning) die and (spooky warning) rise from the grave. Huh. Maybe it’s not so bad after all.

Our world is never not haunted, and the whole year round is never not spooky. Halloween is past, yes, but the creepy quotient is as high as ever if you have eyes to see. Live into the liturgical season, y’all, and lean into this time between the ages. Think Advent, act spooky.