Steve Barnes' World of Happiness

The corrugated pipe was nice.

When the outdoor temperature is slightly cold for comfort, walks are particularly enjoyable. That seemed the top headline as I took in the neighbourhood today, and it wasn't until later I even recalled the calendar date's societal significance, less ubiquitously indicated this year. How refreshing, if only for circumstance.

It's not that I think celebration and ceremony themselves feel wrong or ominous. I support both of them. What disturbs me is something underlying them – something about the perpetuity of it, the assumption that others are automatically "in." People generally, children in particular.

Celebration and ceremony are enjoyable because people choose them. First, it occurs to you that thing x would be great, and then you decide to do thing x. If that little sequence has occurred in everyone celebrating something, then it should be enjoyed by all. If it's occurred in half, the individual verdicts are less certain. If it's occurred in all but one? If they're alone in nothing else, they're alone in that.

The more delightful encounter, however, occurred outside the local fire department building. It's a small, smart duplex with good upkeep, and I've sometimes passed to the same vehicles being treated and maintained which have occasionally zipped past on their way to bring quick aid to someone, to my comfort.

Today, there was a contrastingly shoddy sign on a wood board standing on the small lawn. Written on it, something like "ring bell – trick or treat." And a large, corrugated plastic tube running from the upper floor down to the lawn beside the sign.

The perpetuated celebration with its joys and sadnesses are one thing, but the clever if elementary mechanic of that setup seemed a separate matter.