It was Halloween night, so of course,
Last minute shoppers were out in force.
Scavenging shelves for what remained in stock,
Hunting for candy, racing against the clock.
There was little to choose from at this late hour,
Some bags of licorice and straws that were sour.
Mother snatched what she could and did her best job,
Fighting her way through the frenzied mob.
(The town of Salem – some forty years before,
Decided that Christmas was to be no more.
Weary that consumerism had gone rampant,
Regretting the fortunes on gifts they had spent.
The town of Salem longed and yearned,
For days when witches hanged and burned.
To reconnect with historical roots,
When cauldrons bubbled with eyes of newts.
Together they decided Halloween was to be,
Their most zealously celebrated festivity.
As time passed on, the town got its way,
‘Til Christmas was more obscure than Columbus Day.)
Mother marched to the cashier triumphantly,
Limping and bleeding, but not surprisingly.
She clenched the last bag of Snickers as her prize,
For which she had gouged a soccer mom’s eyes.
Outside there was thunder and a hard-driving rain,
Mother left the store with her ill-gotten gain.
She loaded the car and keyed the ignition,
And drove home to begin the annual tradition.
Every year without fail, on Halloween night,
The Hain family gathered for dinner and fright.
Cousins, aunts, uncles, sisters, and brothers,
Assorted friends, and an aging grandmother.
At the Hain house, Halloween was no joke,
Adorned with wreaths of maple and oak.
The tables and chairs were all draped in black,
Rooms illuminated by lanterns o’ jack.
While waiting for Mother to return from the store,
Her son, Sam, was burdened with an arduous chore.
Tending to the needs of their invited guests,
Most of whom he regarded as virulent pests.
Uncle passed out on the sofa recliner,
Having had more than his share of hard apple cider.
Sam’s elderly grandmother was the Hain matriarch,
A senile old woman rambling alone in the dark.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, others debated and fought,
O’er the holiday greeting to kids being taught.
At long last, Mother burst through the door,
Rainwater dripping from her to the floor.
Sam retreated from the party, now relieved of his task,
“Where are you going?” his mom stopped him to ask.
Sam paused at the stairs, on his way to his room,
To his mom he replied, “To put on my costume.”
“Don’t wear that hideous zombie disguise,
I’ve bought other outfits that are just your size.
Be a swashbuckling pirate, a brave soldier in danger,
Be a ninja, a cowboy, or red Power Ranger.
Dress as the popular heroes of the day,
Even that sparkly vampire is okay.
Many ideas I’ve offered, but if you want more,
Dress as Iron Man, the Hulk, Batman, or Thor.”
Before Sam could respond to his mother’s pleas,
She was interrupted by her sister’s tease.
“This bag of candy is a miserable haul!
You should have shopped at the west side mall.”
“I provide for this family as best as I can,
I am not as rich as you and your man.
You shop at Godiva for your holiday sweets,
Please leave this house if you don’t want these treats.”
Her sister quipped back and others resumed fighting,
Of too many topics to detail in this writing.
Some debated politics, and others religion,
Some lobbied for their side of the culture war friction.
Some boasted their spoils, validation they sought,
Of the costumes and candy their money had bought.
(Somehow, it seemed, Halloween had become,
As commercial as Christmas, they once had fled from.)
Sam reappeared at the foot of the stairs,
Drawing the party’s attention and glares.
His face was concealed, his body was cloaked,
under a hooded robe. And then he spoke.
“It pains me to see you bicker and fight,
Of All Hallow’s Eve, let me shed here some light.
It’s not about candy, and it’s not about costumes,
It’s not a contest over who decorated the most rooms.
It’s not about heroes or a veggie vampire,
Or any other fad of which we’ll soon tire.
It’s not about religion, nor politics,
Nor is it about this culture war mix.”
In front of his grandmother Sam now stood,
He dropped his robe and pulled back his hood.
The image beheld (my mind it still warps),
Was that of a decayed and rotted corpse.
Grandmother screamed and clenched her chest,
Until her body was still and at rest.
A cousin came forward, two fingers to her neck,
Searching for a pulse, for signs of life he did check.
“Be quiet everyone, and please stand back,
This young man gave grandma a heart attack!”
The room fell silent, who knew Sam could hurt her?
Who knew Sam Hain was capable of murder?
Then from the room, arose a faint snicker,
Someone was amused by grandma’s ceased ticker.
Another one chuckled, then others did laugh,
All of the guests were entertained by this gaffe.
“Halloween’s true meaning,” Sam thusly concluded,
As his stark demonstration so aptly alluded.
“Is to scare the hell out of our friends and our foes,
This is the lesson I submit and propose.”
Their appetites whet for blood and gore,
The Hain family now demanded more.
Someone spoke out, excited and wild,
“Let’s do it again – someone find a small child!”