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A HALLOWEEN ORIGIN (click on READ MORE at bottom to read a formatted version)

“Thank you, Wizard of Think,” says the Speaker as he turns to Boniface. “The floor is yours again, mister chairman.”

“Mille grazie, mister Speaker,” replies the Easter Bunny. “I would now like to invite mister Jack of the Lantern to put forth the next motion.”

“I object,” squawks the newly appointed Representative of Ireland as he glares at Jack with sheer disdain. “I object to that creature’s presence on the Committee; in fact, I object to his presence all together. My predecessors may have tolerated that miser turned benefactor but I refuse to transact with the living dead.”

“Order in the House,” screams the Speaker to the young boy who in­tensifies his ranting and raving and jouncing and jolting, and to the other Representatives who begin to throw jellybeans at him all the while booing and hissing in disapproval of his unwarranted outburst.

“Order in the House,” he screams again. “You will all be quiet and you will listen to me. The honorable Jack of the Lantern is exactly that: honor­able; and as one who has transformed stinginess, indolence and guile into honor, duty and devotion, he shall be judged no more. Junior Representative of Ireland, I order you to be indulgent or else to begone.”

“What was that all about?” inquires Tiny.

“It’s an old Irish grievance that surfaces now and again,” answers Maurice, “regarding Jack’s past. He used to be quite a mischievous soul three centur­ies ago; so much so that, if he were still the man that he was then, he would have no misgivings about hurting anyone in this House, including Santa.”

“Then perhaps we should interrogate him,” considers Tiny. “After all, he does compete with Santa for the children’s affection.”

“No; he’s not the man we’re looking for,” replies Maurice, “and he’s not the man he used to be; he’s transformed for good; in fact, he’s the liveliest dead person I’ve ever met—the pride of the living dead community.”

“What do you mean by liveliest dead person?” wonders tiny.

“I mean death becomes him in the best of ways,” replies Maurice; “he’s a zombie; but he wasn’t always one. Our friend Jack was once a man, and a man known to most as the miserly and unscrupulous Stingy Jack. He was a gardener by trade, who was not very good at all, and who only succeeded in growing pumpkins, which he sold at the market for an exorbitant price. Everything else he planted would not sprout, and this seriously impeded his business and his means to survive; so much so that everything came crash­ing down on him one day.

“Faced with a failed business and a mountain of liabilities, Jack, now utterly desolate and desperate, made a deal with the Devil, offering up his soul in exchange for payment against his considerable debt. When the Devil came to collect his due years later, Jack tricked him by making him climb a tree and then carving a cross underneath, preventing the Devil from climb­ing down. In exchange for removing the cross, the Devil released Jack from his promise and swore never again to claim his soul.

“Jack, who had cleverly outsmarted the Devil, considered himself quite bright, but, not as bright as he thought, as he would soon discover. Indeed, when Jack died and his soul arrived at the gates of Heaven, Saint Peter, repulsed by his miserable life and his wicked ways, promptly turned him away, barring him forever from Heaven; and since Jack was also barred, by his own fault, from Hell, he could not hope to enter there either. With no place to go, his soul was driven back into his dead body and he was left to wander the Earth as a living dead.

“Upon learning of Jack’s rejection from Heaven, the Devil, spiteful and somewhat embarrassed for having been duped by him, rejoiced and, for good measure, threw a ball of eternal hellfire at him, ravaging his face be­yond repair. Unable to quench the hellfire and ashamed of his disfigure­ment, Jack plucked a pumpkin from his garden, carved it and wore it over his head—just like a lantern containing a flame.

“After days of wandering, Jack discovered that, despite his deadness, he hungered; so he drifted from house to house, and from village to village, begging for scraps. For the most part, the villagers were friendly and gen­erous, and their children, not frightened one bit by his lantern-like skull, played with him after he fed. This impressed Jack immensely, ‘for who could befriend a zombie especially one as ugly as me,’ he had thought.

“ ‘Perhaps some good can come of this,’ he rejoiced; and, at sunset, gathered the children of the village where he last begged. ‘Your parents are kind to zombies and not afraid at all. We shall therefore take on the guise of zombies, and buzz about the village like bees, asking for lots of apples, lumps of cane sugar and roasted cocoa beans. A grand time this thirty-first day of October—and the eve of the New Year—it shall be, for you, for me and for all those who would partake in our candy fricassee.’

“ ‘Zombies are fascinating I concur but may I dress as a witch instead?’ begged one girl.

“ ‘I wish to disguise myself as the Devil,’ insisted a boy, leaving Jack a bit perplexed about that particular costume.

“ ‘The likeness of a ghost I prefer,’ added another boy.

“ ‘Fine, fine,’ agreed Jack. ‘Bring some garments; I shall trade my gar­dener’s fork and trowel for scissors and needles and fabricate masquerades the likes of which shall stir the hearts and the purse strings of your mothers and fathers.’

“The children’s pilgrimage towards a bellyful was very well received; at evening’s end their bags brimming with treats, heavy indeed. Their parents, in the aftermath of such exuberance from their progenies, heralded Jack of the Lantern, Ambassador of Abundance, and decreed the event the Hallow Eve of the Celtic New Year, the best of jamborees for the young and the very young who, not yet masters of their V’s, coined their merrymaking Halloween.”

“I’m glad Jack redeemed himself,” admits Tiny with renewed empathy, “and in such salient fashion. Even Santa would be proud of him.”

“Indeed,” agrees Maurice. Santa considers Jack O’Lantern a worthy ally whose Halloween trick or treating is the perfect prelude to Santa’s Christmas Eve gift giving. Without it, where in heavens would we be?”

“You would find yourself without treats or privileges, mister Maurice,” hollers the Speaker, interrupting Maurice and Tiny’s conversation; “not un­like the privilege you’re now perverting—you know full well visitors who enjoy the House’s indulgence may intrude in silence but not in sounds; and if you and your seatmate do not interrupt the verbal effluvium that is obstructing the flux of these proceedings, I shall trick and treat you with contempt of House and expel you summarily.”

“Our apologies, Mister Speaker,” sheepishly replies Maurice as he turns to Tiny and whispers, “He’s really a softy at heart; job pressure’s got him in knots.”

“Thank you, Maurice,” responds the Speaker with a surreptitious half-smile. “Mister Lantern, you may proceed at your convenience.”

“Thank you and greetings to you, Mister Speaker, and to the mem­bers of the House,” replies Jack. “Although I empathize with the Irish Representative’s position, I believe my actions as First Prime of Hallow Eve have produced enough joy in the world to warrant final and irrevocable amnesty from all Representatives.

“And to consolidate my commitment to the cause and dispel doubts once in for all, I boldly propose a second jubilation, not of the satiation of children’s bellies, but of the fertilization of their minds.

“When Hallow Eve was created, it was to be the ultimate night of candy harvest and the perfect preliminary to the harvest festival of the New Year—a preliminary I believe is worthy of duplication, but not so much in its letter as in its spirit. What I envision is a celebration that would premise, like Halloween, a significant event—an event I’ve elected to be the begin­ning of the growing season in April, the season of new life, of new discover­ies and of astonishing creations.

“During this special Eve celebration, I foresee the children dressing up as leafy trees, bushes, flowers and various other symbols of new life, and go­ing door to door, much as they do on Halloween, but not in quest of treats this time, rather in discovery of new worlds hiding in books and in other tokens of human imagination.

“Each home would gather these items, which, for the most part, have been relegated to a shelf, a closet or the attic, after use, and distribute them to the ambulating kids, growing ever so thirsty for new things and mass­ing at their doors. Ding dong ding the doorbell rings; answers the eve of growth, knowledge and true discovery.

“I submit to the honourable Representatives that this celebration is the perfect supplement to the daily routines of learning, worthy of a parent’s participation and of a child’s anticipation; and worthy of a good name; and if it indeed be greeted with an appellation of great substance and enduring symbolism, let us call it henceforth the Discover Eve—or as the very little ones would observe: Discovereen.”

“Goednieuws!” yells the Speaker once again. “A motion has been sub­mitted to the House. Please vote now by putting on either your Yea hat or your Nay hat to transmit your decision.

“Excellent,” he adds a few seconds later. “The hats are on, and swiftly done indeed; and now I count and I count and around the House I go; whenever I stop, the tally we shall know: 192 in favor and one against—a nay from Ireland, what a coincidence. The motion has passed the House; it has transmuted into Game Proffer. I now pass on the Proffer to the Great Wizard of Think so that he may reflect, reason, contemplate, meditate, philosophize, concentrate and think.”

“This Proffer I like more than any other,” asserts the Wizard; “the per­fect union between Fun and Think. And because the House and I concord on this point, I shall choose a top student amongst you and inflict him with the mildest of puzzles so that, more likely than not, he shall prevail.

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