Junk in the Trunk

arrangement-blackboard-candle-1449058Trunks are super useful. If you’re an elephant, they’re a necessity. If you want to change a tire, hide Christmas gifts or transport a body, trunks are invaluable. But I don’t understand the connection between trunks and Halloween. Why is trunk-or-treating a thing?

In the U.S., trick-or-treating started after WWII when children went door to door begging for food on Thanksgiving (not joking). Then they continued begging through Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and so on—so I guess someone decided to create a national begging celebration on Halloween.

This mass candy solicitation certainly worked for me for many years. Part of the thrill of trick-or-treating was leaving the familiar neighborhoods, searching for the families handing out full-size Butterfingers. We’d come home with pillowcases full of candy, after walking miles and miles through Murray, Utah.

Now, in our heavily-sanitized society, parents want to make sure their kids won’t be handed anything with sugar, soy, peanuts or gluten, or have to interact with neighbors they’ve never met—so trunk-or-treating was introduced.

I know some churches feel trunk-or-treating (Halloween tailgating) is a way to watch over kids while keeping demonic costumes to a minimum. In fact, kids are often encouraged to dress as bible characters.

(Side note: If I was forced to dress as a woman from the bible, I’d be Jael and I’d carry Sisera’s head with a nail shoved through his temple. But that’s just me. The Book of Revelations also has some pretty messed-up oddities. My daughters could easily have passed for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse on any given day.)

blurred-background-bokeh-celebration-1426705Anyway. Part of growing up is being terrified all the time. Kids have so little control over their lives and, unfortunately, they learn early on that life can be scary and unpredictable.

As kids on Halloween, we got super scared, but we also knew that, deep down, we truly were safe. Visiting haunted houses made us feel brave. In our minds, going from house to house, asking strangers for candy, was akin to walking down a dark alley in New York City.

There was always one house on the block you were afraid to visit because it had strobe lights, shrieking screams, ghoulish laughter when you rang the bell and an unidentifiable zombie handing out treats with his bloody hands.

Even scarier was the house where the neighborhood witch resided. Lights turned off. No jack o’ lantern. You knew she was sitting in the dark, staring out her window, ready to cast spells on children who came to her door.

Additionally, my mom had me paranoid about eating any unwrapped candy, convinced my friend’s mom had dipped the open jawbreaker in bleach several times before handing it to me.

But really? How many people did you know that found a razor blade in their apple or received temporary tattoos laced with acid?

On November 1, when we woke up with piles of candy, stomach aches and Halloween make-up smeared on our pillows, we also felt we had survived something frightening—and imagined ourselves a little bit braver as we faced our lives.

But trunk-or-treating is not remotely scary, unless your trunk is part of a 1950s Cadillac hearse, complete with creaky coffin and a driver named Lurch. Maybe instead of meeting in church parking lots, we can stay in our homes and hand out candy as kids go door-to-door. I think that idea might just catch on.

Originally published in The Davis Clipper–Oct. 2015

 

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Top 5 Things to Avoid in January

January is #1 on my list of Top 10 Months I Hate. Once Christmas is cleaned up and the work holidays are over, there’s no reason to put up with January’s cold, blizzardy, moody attitude. It’s Mother Nature’s version of PMS.

Because my boss insists I show up EVERY workday this month, I can’t just hibernate in pajama pants and watch Netflix. I have to prioritize my list of January crappiness to make sure I avoid the very worst parts of the month. Here are the Top 5 Things to Avoid in January.

1. Going Outside.  Not cool. Okay, it’s VERY cool, but not in a cool way. I walk my dog before and after work (he works from 9 to 5) and it’s dark, it’s miserable, it’s snowy and it’s soggy. And did I mention it’s cold? I wear so many layers I was once photographed and put on the cover of Yeti magazine.

yeti(Just me. Walking in a Winter Wonderland from Hell.)

2. Driving.  I’ve been driving in the snow since Ford introduced the Edsel. But if you’re not comfortable driving in the snow, don’t get on the freeway! That is not the place to practice snow driving. If you’re from a state that shuts down during a spring rain, don’t get in your car at all until April.

3. The Air. Salt Lake has some of the worst air in the country.  Go, Utah! Each winter, a choking, germy, evil cloak of smog settles into homes and lungs, only lifting when the annual winter virgin sacrifice is offered to our heathen gods. I’ve never been chosen for the virgin sacrifice. #Biased

4. Skiers. These snow-enthusiasts are the most horrible creatures on the planet. If you grew up too poor to ski, you developed an innate prejudice against all the wealthy skiers who hit the slopes each winter to slide down the mountains on a pair of toothpicks. Plus, you have to listen to how much fun they had on their ski trips when you only spent your weekend crying into a hot water bottle.

skier

(He’s having the time of his life! And you’ll hear about it for three months.)

5. Darkness.  If I wanted to live in a bleak, dark world of sadness and despair, I’d move to Washington, D.C.. In Utah, the sun rises around 11:30 a.m. then hangs around the sky like a petulant teenager before slamming the bedroom door and going to bed at 4 p.m. Even with the sun “shining”, the Stephen King fog (see #3) hovers like a vulture just waiting for us to drop dead from asphyxiation. So there’s that.

Unless you like driving in the snowy, cold, dark, poisonous wasteland of winter, avoid Salt Lake until June. If you’re a skier, take up chess.