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A short story from many, many, many years gone by…

Is everyone feeling hella good??? I know that when this special dark day of the year rolls around, I’m feeling hella great! Or for adults who wear braces, or have small children, you are permitted to feel hecka great.

What a joyous and fun day to celebrate the exhumation of spirits and ghouls and ghosts and zombies that creep out from every tomb and are closing in to seal your doom.B1TQEd4CEAAHcRs

Halloween is my second favourite holiday, just after Xmas. Third on the list is Turkey Day, and then after that, there are no other holidays that float my boat. Halloween and Xmas are the only two holidays in our culture that require massive amounts of decorations, themed parties, and costuming. Houses are decorated with strands of orange lights and pumpkins for Halloween, and are decorated with strands of white and multi-coloured lights and trees for Xmas.

Halloween brings us carved pumpkins, while Xmas brings us carved turkeys and hams. For the dark holiday we dress up in costumes that could be scary, funny, wild, naughty, sexy, Disney, or crazy. And for the bright holiday, we dress up in festive reds and whites and stockings and hats, an homage to the leader of Xmas, Santa Claus.

Halloween, however, doesn’t have the same type of official mascot as Xmas. In fact, when we look across the gamut of holidays, we have an issue. There’s an Easter Bunny, a Tooth Fairy, a July 4th Firework, but what do we have for Halloween? Personally I think it’s about time for an Officially Designated Leader of Halloween.

Those of you who are huge fans of The Nightmare Before Xmas, may begin the lobby for Jack Skellington, that hollow-headed, insane creature who has a fascination for women with stitches all over their bodies. Others of you might feel that because this is the dark holiday, we need a more loathsome, e-ville (as in frew-its of the de-ville) type of creature like Satan, the Devil, Lucifer, Beelzebub, the Fallen One, or some other derivative of the former angel of music (if you didn’t get this, please refer to the Music Makes a People Editorial).

Jack is too happy. The Devil is too devilish. We need something more better. And so this is that story…of a most memorable day in our history…The Great Halloween Massacre…

Looming larger than life above the skyscrapers of the most scrapingest city, a massively evil orange man-pumpkin – basically the size of the Stay Puft Marshmallow man from that classic Hellaween movie Ghostbusters – looms larger than life above the horizon.

What other figure could simultaneously cause laughter and screams of terror from children everywhere, as the Halloween Evil Man-Pumpkin (HEMP) comes crashing through their neighbourhoods, stealing candy, decorations, and any child dressed up as a pumpkin. And on that very frightful day, that is exactly what happened.

The world was thrown into panic, as children everywhere began to notice a massive pumpkin-shaped man looming larger in the skies above each of their respective cities. Not knowing what was happening, who this was, where it came from, and why it was so orange and as big as the sun – the children began to scream, as they madly dashed home in a desperate escape from the HEMP.

But alas, it was too late. HEMP had already blanketed the terrified population, and ghosts and ghouls from every tomb and mortuary emerged from the depths to begin the attack.

batsEerie bats, who make that WEEE WEEE WEEE sound, flew out from caverns deep within the mountains…but more than just eerie they were vampire bats, swooping down on unsuspecting children and carrying them to the lair of the evil HEMP. There he would munch and crunch and gnash and gash and chew and spew until the children were mere pulp for pies.

Screams from all corners of the globe were heard as far as the international space station, as children raced to change their costumes into something other than pumpkins, so that the HEMP would pass them over.

But the HEMP remembered.

Parents quickly smashed all of their carved pumpkins into the street, not only in protest and defiance, but so the HEMP wouldn’t see how they had desecrated his next of kin.

But the HEMP remembered.

Orange lights on houses were quickly replaced with black, so the HEMP couldn’t see the scared children hiding behind the fake tombstones and witch statues.

But the HEMP had night vision goggles.

The HEMP smashed buildings, ripped out trees, broke through darns causing huge floods, threw cars around like little toys, expressed copious amounts of cloudy gas from his pumpkiny butt, and rampaged through town after town.

After an unnecessary number of hours, the government finally declared a state of emergency.

“The HEMP must be stopped! We must send in armed guards dressed in orange camouflage! We must send in helicopters and tanks! We must burn the HEMP and protect our children from this dark holiday!”

But the HEMP was formidable, and the army was unable to prevail. And so it was that the people of the country united against HEMP on their own – through referendums and ballot measures.

“DOWN WITH THE HEMP, DOWN WITH THE HEMP” they shouted, as parents and children armed themselves with the pitchforks that were stuck in haystacks in their front yard decorations, and carving knives from the pumpkin carving set, and torches burning bright to illuminate the city in the unnatural darkness of Halloween.

The HEMP crashed into the center of the last town in the world. An angry mob surrounded it. It blasted gas at the townspeople and grabbed for the children who hadn’t had time to change costumes. Those poor children became the fodder for more of the HEMP’s wretched gas.

The angry crowd chanted, “BURN THE HEMP, BURN THE HEMP, SMOKE HIM OUT!!!”.

Flames erupted around the HEMP, as he tried to jump up onto the side of a building to get away from the flames, but the force of the parents and differently-costumed children were overpowering him, burning into his tender orange flesh.

Dark black smoke filled the air of Halloween night, blocking out the last rays of the smoldering sun, sending children and parents dashing through the darkness with costumes and capes blowing behind, as the HEMP came crashing down in a blaze of glory and seeds.

The Halloween Bonfire had begun.

The HEMP grew hotter and hotter, and angrier and angrier. He began to expand and bulge, and then suddenly the HEMP exploded! Piles of pumpkin and freshly baked seeds flew across the earth, smacking unwary children in the face and blasting them miles away from the force of the seeds.

Ghosts and ghouls from every tomb flew in every direction with skeletal faces full of cooked pumpkin.

Showers of orange splattered the rooftops of houses and buildings, and the leaves of the trees and the slopes of the mountains. Pumpkin filled all the lakes and rivers with an orange soupy mess.

And at last the explosion stopped. The angry and scared people stood dumbstruck at the carnage around them. Their clothing and hair dripped with pumpkin, as they wandered about in search of their loved ones, on this the night of the Great Halloween Massacre.

But as people do – they began to rebuild. Parents found their children, still in costume, but scattered far and wide. And they realized that the day had been saved, and joyous cheering erupted from every mouth (along with seeds and pumpkin rind).

“HURRAY, HURRAH, the HEMP IS GONE!!!!!”

The government, satisfied that the HEMP infestation had been abolished, went back into hibernation. While the people of this good Earth gathered around, brought bags of brown sugar, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg, and enjoyed freshly baked pumpkin pie to celebrate the defeat of the HEMP.

And then suddenly, they realized that the HEMP wasn’t really all that bad.

Yes it had caused some destruction of city property, and yes it had caused people to run around screaming and laughing and doing foolish things, and yes it had devoured 1/4th of the population, and yes they were covered in a wet sticky mess, but there had also been a wonderful by-product of the HEMP…this delicious and marvelous spicy (and a bit fermented) pumpkin pie that they were now enjoying, and the fantabulous baked seeds that they were crunching.

Suddenly the crowd began to sing, “LONG LIVE THE HEMP, LONG LIVE THE HEMP!!”

And so even today, on this special dark holiday, as we remember the sacrifices made by the people during the Great Halloween Massacre, we are reminded that HEMP isn’t really all that bad.

Happy Halloween everyone, and enjoy that pumpkin pie :-).

Boo!

easter bunnyWhat is Easter? Where did it come from? Is it solely a Christian holiday to celebrate the death and resurrection of a deity? Or is it a Pagan rite of fertility? Or perhaps it was created by a bunch of people who were really fond of rabbit fur.

When I ponder my childhood, I remember trying to stay up as late as I could on Easter Eve, so I could catch a glimpse of the resurrected Easter Bunny coming down the chimney to deliver fabulous and colourful eggs that would remind me of the cave and the stone that was rolled away.

I usually lasted until about 8pm, at which point my eyelids could no longer stay open.

But just like the savior, I arose the next day (well, technically 2 days earlier than he may have), and I jumped out of bed to see what Jesus had left for me. Who knew that Jesus could not only turn water into wine, but also into a basket of multi-coloured eggs?

I think that’s why I’m gay. No, not because a god performed a miracle with the chicken and the Easter egg, but because the rainbow flag was bestowed upon me at such an early age. The eggs were red and yellow and green and brown and scarlet and black and ochre and peach, ruby and olive and violet and fawn, cream and silver and purple and gold, russet and white and pink and orange and BLUE! (From memory, people. That’s the real reason I’m gay.)

Okay, so the basket didn’t have that many eggs, but it was quite full. But these were not just ordinary eggs. These eggs were plastic! I wasn’t sure what chemical process to apply to an egg to make it plastic, so I decided that this was just an Easter Miracle performed by a Great and Powerful Bunny.

eggsNot only were these eggs plastic, but they each had a perfectly carved seam around the middle. Easier to crack them with my dear. I tore them apart because I knew there was no yolk to spill. What I didn’t realize is that instead of yolk, Jesus had put money and candy inside these eggs! The money was obviously meant for me to put into the offering plate at church, but the candy was all mine! Candy can’t build a cathedral.

Inside the non-monetary eggs were jelly beans of every colour imaginable, jujube’s, candy corn (not just for Halloween anymore), marshmallow ducks with sugar on top, and raindrops on roses and noses on kittens. It was simply fabulous. Thanks Easter Bunny! Bwak! Bwak!

I was surrounded by candies of every sort, and I thought back to those post-Halloween candy review meetings with my parents in the kitchen. So many things I had to throw away for fear of poison and razor blades. You might ask what kind of neighbourhood I grew up in that would have such a fear, but in middle-class North Carolina you can never be too careful.

The Easter candy, unlike the Halloween candy, was sacred. The resurrected bunny would never think of putting something harmful inside his eggs, so these candies were one-hundred percent free and clear for the taking. And so of course I had to eat all of it before we left for church, which by the counting of the clock in my bedroom was in exactly two hours.

By the time we got to god’s newly decorated house – which for the occasion had been decked out with bright purple bunting and more shades of pink than I have ever seen in my life – I had a tummy ache. Let us give thanks to the Lord for these gifts which give us gas.

While my stomach churned and vocalized its own Easter music, the rest of the congregation sang songs about a tomb and a rock, and then something about rising from the dead. As a cold sweat broke out over my forehead I could not understand what those things had to do with candy so I didn’t sing along.

Church finally concluded with a never-ending sermon about the after-life. I was sure that I was about to experience the after-life because my stomach was in such turmoil, but there was no time. We had to make it to Easter Brunch before the lunch rush.

I don’t know why my parents insisted on calling it Easter Brunch, because by the time we got there it was well after noon. It was firmly into the lunch hour, but the point was not to be argued by me – the last thing I wanted to talk about was food.

To further confuse the issue, Easter Brunch consisted of the exact same food as we’d had for Thanksgiving Brunch and Dinner. It seemed to me that the two holidays must be related on some level. I could understand giving thanks for friends and family on the same day every year, but I didn’t know why anyone would give thanks for dying on the same day every year only to be stuck into a cold rocky tomb. But who am I to judge another person’s lifestyle?

So Easter Brunch Lunch ended, and my tummy was in even more distress, because how could I be expected to sit at the table and not eat the bounty placed before me? Now the jelly beans were combined with turkey and baked beans, and the juxtaposition of the two beans in my stomach created a very unpleasant ride home.

I am still not quite sure how I managed the ten minute drive, at which point I rushed to my room, shut the door, and lay on my bed moaning in pain. Let us give thanks to the Resurrection Rabbit for the blessings bestowed upon us this day.

For several hours I listened to the sounds of my stomach attempting to manage the onslaught of beans I was forcing it to process, but soon I began to feel somewhat better and the cold sweats dried up on my forehead. I decided to take account of the Easter basket to see if perhaps I had overlooked any additional gifts from the Rabbit.

eggs2Those who have experienced the Easter Basket know how easily things can get lost in the green plastic grass strips, and this basket did not disappoint. I dumped the money out of the non-candy eggs, and put the coins into my piggy bank. I continued to dig through the plastic greenery and behold and ye verily the Mother Lode appeared.
Apparently the savior appreciated me going to church to celebrate his death, because what to my wondering eyes should appear but The Cadbury Creme Egg. The epitome of egg. The creme-de-la-creme of egg. The Alpha and the Omega of egg. The great I AM egg.

I held the CCE gently in my hand, being careful not to warm it too much so that the chocolate would melt inside the wrapper. Slowly, I peeled back the foil which held it so tight, to reveal the true meaning of Easter: liquid sugar encased in chocolate.

Forget about all this death and dying and after-life nonsense. This was the only reason for living. My salvation and my rock. A gift from above that was to be savored, worshiped, and praised. And so like a good boy who was brought up right, I praised it like I should.

With one gigantic bite I split the egg apart, showering my taste buds with the rich and creamy goodness that could only come from such a precious gift. I let the egg-styled fondant melt across my tongue, washing away any leftover tastes from the Easter Brunch.

Gently I swallowed. I wanted to remember what it felt like – this very special egg – and in that moment I resolved to never forget the true meaning of Easter.

And then I promptly ran to the bathroom and showered the god who sits on the white porcelain throne with all that I had been bestowed on this most precious of holidays.

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* Easter, like Christmas, is a blend of paganism and Christianity. The word Easter is derived from Eostre, an ancient Anglo-Saxon Goddess who symbolized rebirth of the day at dawn and the rebirth of life in the spring. The arrival of spring was celebrated well before any religious meaning became associated with Easter.
** Like most of the things I write, I include references to pop culture, products, or names which are copyrights and trademarks of their respective companies.