Sunday, November 1, 2009
Day of the Dead
This year had exceptionally fine Halloween decorations. In my part of town I was particularly taken by a black bat with a six-foot wingspan and glowing red eyes; several yards transformed into nicely creepy graveyards - one of which was crowned by a glittery banner hung from the second floor of the house that announced FANGTASIA! - and a new house by Braes Bayou that had two big furry spiders stalking up the front steps. As to the last, the spiders, plus some skeletons and cobwebs, amounted to a nice scare, but the really scary thing is the adjacent bayou. The house has such a high and handsome set of front steps because it was built to stay dry the next time the bayou floods.
To me, this year's Halloween seemed cleaner than Halloweens over the last six or seven years. As well it might be. The United States, in the form of its government, was visiting death and hell on the Middle East and actively promoting the destabilization of climate and the extinction of species, not to mention Wall Street having its unchecked, obscene orgy of greed. In 2009, there's at least as much scary stuff in the world as there was in, say, 2005, but we're not the most scary, out-of-control, hell-bent monster in the world. That's a good change - and worth a Peace prize. It makes our Halloween decor relatively innocent fun again. (Somewhere in some yard I'm sure somebody put up a dollar sign and a stock market ticker... scares that keep on scaring.)
Better our Halloween should be clean and fun. Halloween is the day before the Day of the Dead, or All Saints in the traditional Christian calendar. In Mexico and Mexican-American parts of the US, it's an important holiday with the sense that dead family and friends return to visit. People who celebrate the Day of the Dead by putting up ofrendas, the altars, clean the house beforehand in honor of the occasion. This time around, the United States managed to clean its house somewhat before the Day of the Dead. And how appropriate that earlier this week President Obama took a midnight helicopter trip to Dover Air Force Base to meet the returning bodies of 18 service members killed in Afghanistan. Today, November 1, we put away the plastic skeletons and pack up the yard spooks and the dead come to help us understand life.