According to my father, one of the benefits of living in Pittsburgh is “the seasons.”
“How sad it would be to live somewhere sunny all the year through,” he says. “The changing seasons summon us to think about where we are, to think about what we should do.”
I sometimes disagree with this sentiment, especially after a large snowstorm.
But living through years of endless summer seems somehow frightening, far more frightening than Halloween.
Constant sunlight might threaten to disconnect us from the tick-tocking clock.
Fall is aptly named, not only because the trees drop their leaves, but because we too fall toward winter’s beautiful white death.
To some, Halloween seems a lugubrious holiday.
Some object to it on the basis that it encourages children to explore death and the demonic.
Houses are decorated with tombstones and spider webs. Skulls hang from windows, and pumpkins glow with jaggedy teeth.
But even when I was a child, Halloween seemed more humorous than frightening.
And my sense of the hilarity of Halloween has only grown as I’ve grown older.
What are these cardboard tombstones and plastic skeletons but symbols of our fearlessness?
Are we not mocking death together?
Are we not laughing at the stupidity of evil?
We dress as zombies or witches or skeletons or devils—or anything else that we truly are not.
And we place such terrors where they ought to be: in a landscape of mock horror, where we laugh while wearing a costume.
“Oh! how I like a scary Halloween!” I used to think as a child.
But secretly, I always knew that Halloween points toward spring.
* Orlando Bartro is the author of Toward Two Words, a novel about men-women relationships, available at Amazon. He is currently writing two new novels and a play. You can hear his insights into the beauties of fiction at the Grassy Elbow at Youtube.