Kage Baker never felt a single day was enough in which to do justice to a good holiday. Especially one with a lot of buildup – you can’t anticipate for weeks and weeks, and then discharge all that celebratory energy in a mere 24 hours.
Hence the 12 days of Christmas (which we celebrated). Hence our tradition of Birthday Weeks, wherein all manner of small gifties and treats were revealed each day. Hence adopting an old Celtic habit – count the holidays by nights; start the part the night before, celebrate all day, and into the next night. You can turn a mild little dinner party with, you know, spinach dip and maybe some cheese crackers, into a full-on Festival!
So today I start the serious last-minute deco of the house: add more lights, so the porch can be lit entirely by strings of orange and purple and no nasty mundane light bulbs are needed for the kiddies to find their way to the front door. (There are also the surprisingly bright crystal skulls, after all.)
Gotta drape the windows with black cloth, so the Jacob’s Ladder lightning generator shows up well – it gives the front that de rigeur mad scientist’s lab look. And, Jacob’s Ladders being electrostatically active, if kids point their fingers at the window glass, it appears to strike at them – screams and fun galore!
Gotta set up the Amazing and Perfect Fog Bubble Machine: it produces ghostly translucent grey bubbles that float around like apparitions and then POP! in a burst of fog. It is so unbelievably cool that kids have been known to run around in the bubbles in the driveway rather than come up to the door for candy. Now, that is effective!
This is not just in memory of Kage, although it is that as well. None of this delicious Samhain excess is new to Kimberly, my sister with whom I now live. She does this too. Over in Burbank, sister Anne has also decked her house with lights, skulls, bats and a perfect snow storm of orange and black garlands, and I believe my niece Katie has transformed into her annual Stlylish Ghoul morph. We all do this.
Halloween being on a weekend this year facilitates the elongation of the holiday, too. The neighborhood kids have been insane little bunnies since yestreday – the grammar school down the street loosed an avalanche of anticipatory trick or treaters at 3 PM, and the streets have been full of fairies, pirates and really little Iron Men ever since. They shriek and race and dance through the scarlet camphor leaves like maddened butterflies; no candy until tomorrow, but they are rehearsing for all they are worth.
This is, after all, a celebration of the honored and beloved dead – not just the scary ones. It’s not just ghoulies and gheasties. People we love are out there in the dark, come to see the party and the lights and hear the laughter. We’ll hand sweets to a few hundred strangers’ children in memory and celebration of the hands we miss, the dear hands we wish we would still fill with the good things of the earth.
That’s the point, I think. It sure is for me.
Tomorrow: Samhain, Halloween, Dia de Muerte and other solemn reasons to have a huge party