Dear young Aussie children of my street (or possibly one of your parents, even creepier),
Once, my uncle got an orange for Christmas. That was it. An orange. Because they were poor.
Whereas you can get an orange on any old Thursday, and you would probably deem it punishment. I understand that. You're young, lollies are yummy, and it's impossible to understand lack when you are surrounded by abundance (that's why Australia has detention centres).
My uncle was Scottish, just like the origins of the word "Halloween." It is a shortening of the term "All Hallows Eve," which was, depending on who you listen to, either the evening before a holy day in the Christian calendar which paid tribute to the dead, or Samhain, the harvest festival celebration from the Celtic tradition, neither of which bear much resemblance to your door-knocking this Friday.
I understand too that it's also impossible for you to know the value of community. You have grown up in a culture that has forgotten how to talk to its neighbours (even though if there is
ever a total societal collapse we will suddenly all be dependent on each other
... once we learn what each others' names are).
Great abundance and lack of community are understandable reasons for you to see me not as a person, but as a thing who might have something you want. You learn without knowing what you learn from the fishpond in which you swim. And yours has been full of neoliberalistic, globalised, monetised-to-the-shit water for as long as you've been swimming. I just want to tell you that entire cultures have lived without this crap and its people have flourished and been very shiny, thanks very much.
I'm sure you'd be flabbergasted at my slowly simmering irritation when my letterbox received your little home-printed note, with a lovely black cat and a weirdly-shaped pumpkin on it, ever so kindly reminding me that this Friday is the 31st October, and to not forget the treats. Lighten up, you will say. Learn my fucking name before you try to get something from me, I will retort.
I dream that one day you will see how you smell slightly of Veruka Salt. I daydream about you, looking back from a reborn culture brimming with new-found richness that has woken up to life lived freer. From that position, you will be embarrassed at the paltry quality of your childhood rituals because the ones your kids are having then are way wilder and more awesome - alive and creative. But until then, you have to take the fun when you can get it, right? And anyway, when you're young, you don't really question whether your cultural rituals are empty fluff masquerading as a thing.
Well, I do. I thirst for way better than this shitty dying paradigm and I believe the phoenix will rise if we are willing to be brave. So what may seem snarky to you, just a grouchy old lady with hairs growing from her chin, is really thirst. I have, my young dears, just about drowned in cultural meaninglessness. It hurts me in my bones. You may think my irritation comes from not wanting you to have any fun, but you would have it entirely the wrong way round. I want you to have fun, just way more awesome and grouse fun that isn't two thirds of nothing. We need to come up with a ritual that is better than this shite. Something that is culturally appropriate (because pumpkins ain't in fucking season). Something that's fun, that we can all dress up to, that brings us together to get to know each others' names, something which actually means 17% more than fuck all. If that happens, I guarantee I will be so excited, I'll even get specially designed bags with ghouls on them to give you your lollies in. I'll be out there myself, playing on the road with you.
There is one thing I do like about your little note. I'm regularly accosted by Irish and Indian backpackers at my door trying to sign me up to yet another energy company. By phone calls from various companies whose poorly paid and bored telemarketers must pretend that if they ask me nicely to jump through their hoop, then we will both pretend there isn't hidden two point type at the bottom of the contract designed to shaft me. Some days, the only people I speak to directly are people who are all trying to get money from me I don't have.
And so I do appreciate the transparency of your particular marketing campaign - there's no floss on it. You're not smothering it in chocolate and saying there's something in it for me. There are no tricks up your sleeves ~ it's straight up all about the treats.
I hope you have a ball on Friday, in your light-heartedness that doesn't think too much about everything, but I'm not playin'. I apologise if that makes me a curmudgeon, but you get enough stuff already.
See you on the other side of the revolution.
The crotchety crone at number 60