When I was a kid, the best thing about October was the run-up to Halloween. The expectation of a bagful of treats overrode any other considerations. Those with birthdays that month had their happiness doubled by the promise of presents and candy. The weeks leading up to All Hallows’ Eve echo with the memory of prior years, sweet chocolate cheers, and little ones announcing their costume choices, mostly homemade or cobbled together from whatever clothing Mom could spare. This year, 2020, feels so much different. Amid debate over whether to trick-or-treat at all amid the ongoing threat of infection from COVID-19, the specter of the presidential election looms.
Seems like all we have to look forward to this year are tricks: new revelations about the current administration’s corruption, the president’s greed, a memoir-a-day from public servants disillusioned from their stints in government, articles revealing all the sordid details behind governmental contracts and shady dealings. The ghouls no longer inhabit only the haunted houses set up as fund-raisers in local communities. They loom at us from the ticker tape numbers of infections and deaths on news channels across the political spectrum. I find no comfort in each revelation, no way to escape the gnawing feeling that honor and integrity have disappeared from the political landscape. Vampires once lived only in the tales of late-night TV or movies released to coincide with October 31. Now, they live in Washington, D.C., sucking the country dry for their own benefit.
Sounds dreary, doesn’t it? Hopeless? Impossibly sad? I feel that way, too, yet I persist in looking for hope in the quiet moments. The crickets’ chorus at dusk. The wind’s whisper through the branches of the Norway spruce. The photos of babies posted by former students on the oft-maligned yet incredibly rich communal site Facebook. I find it in the calm voices that, even in dissent, allow for different opinions without resorting to demeaning, sarcastic, or ugly rants. Most of all, I find hope in the electorate who have a chance, come November, to prove that the country of my birth and the country I have always loved is filled with people who see through distortion and lies to the truth beneath, who envision the nation as more than it has become over the past four years, and who rise up to stand with me against the hate and divisiveness. This is what I anticipate as the weeks cycle through to that most child-like of celebrations rooted in a belief that, on one special night, the world of the living and the realm of the dead draw closer, allowing us to re-visit our past great aspirations and make them come true.