Halloween 2016, Make it a Happy One

Screen Shot 2017-11-01 at 10.32.58 AMHappy Halloween, my friends. My twins are four and in preschool now, and the other day the parents were told to put the children into costumes for a trip to the local assisted living facility.

My twin girls are staunch archetypes. One is tomboy; the other is femme. Ella wore a sparkly mermaid costume and Lucy had to settle for a lion (the dragon we ordered from Amazon the night before didn’t arrive on time).

The children sang for the residents and walked down two hallways saying their requisite trick-or-treat, but you know that when four-year-olds in costumes seem lackluster that the gig is pretty grim. Some of the residents who held open their bags of candy weren’t really conscious, and you had to reach in to get what you needed. Every elderly person had a sad plastic sack of the same candy, Hershey’s Kisses. Not that there is anything wrong with Hershey’s kisses per se, but going from one geriatrics patient to the next to get another of the same candy did have a grim feeling to it. One old man with sores on his head insisted on unwrapping about ten of the chocolates before dropping them — naked, sticky, brown — into their little treat bags. Ella watched, fascinated.

“Mama,” she whispered.  “He’s unwrapping them.” It was disturbing, but there was something kind of zen about it, too.

After the children had collected about four-hundred pieces of the same candy, they sang a song in the lobby to four people who were asleep. One man smiled; another lady clapped her hands.  Then the children were filtered into the dining hall, a bland assembly of about ten brown tables with laminate tablecloths and false leaf centerpieces. The children were served a dixie cup of apple juice and a rice crispy treat.

I noticed that the girls looked a little desiccated after the juice and sugary rice crispies, so I found a water bubbler at the back of the dining hall and poured three cups of water for the children at my table.

“When you’re thirsty,” I said to Ray, my older homeschooled boy, “Water is better than juice.”

“Especially that juice,” Ray remarked, scrutinizing the pitcher as if he weren’t sure it even came from actual fruit.

I couldn’t resist taking a sip. What could be wrong with apple juice? But, like the facility, the juice was sallow, off-color, depressing. Suddenly, I couldn’t wait to leave.

I suppose most of us are going to end up in some kind of nursing home or assisted living situation someday, and I have yet to figure out how to think about this without getting really sad. Not sad enough to go to the gym regularly. Or at all. But, you know, sad.

The best part of today’s Halloween visit was watching the children sing for the people. Even if most of the people were unconscious. The voices of our young breed is worth any sack filled with crappy chocolate, especially if those voices bring a moment of joy into the experience of a person. Even for those of us still fortunate to live without assistance, are we not all looking for some diversion from the sometimes banal vicissitudes of existence?

This is getting too dark, which might not be the worst thing, since it’s Halloween. I’m signing off before I experience too deep an emotion. Anyway, emotions are repressible with a couple-few thousand pieces of chocolate. I won’t even have to take the trouble to unwrap them. 

PS: Here’s a link to Halloween 2017, in case you’d like to see how things progressed. 





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