The not-so-scary truth about Halloween
I got called to task this past week.
It wasn’t for anything political. It wasn’t because I’m “a liberal.”
It wasn’t even for any opinion piece I’ve written recently.
I was over my newspaper’s coverage of the recent Halloween in the Park in which a reader thought I “glorified Halloween.”
I was told, with no little indignation that Halloween was a holiday that celebrated “evil” and promoted “demonic behavior.”
And again ... sigh.
Look. If you don’t want to take part in Halloween parties, festivities, or community celebrations ... don’t.
But seriously, some folks really, Really, REALLY need to lighten up.
Please, don’t keep telling me about the ancient history of Halloween and all it’s supposedly Satanic implications.
Frankly, I don’t care.
If you want to get your panties in a knot because some kook, (probably a fringe pastor looking to make a name for himself), says your kids are endangering their immortal souls because they dress up like a fairy, a cowboy, or a vampire then ... knot away.
I just don’t buy it.
But then, I grew up in a different time, a different place, and in a different church community.
I grew up long ago, in the big city, and in a church that had a congregation of people who apparently had better things to worry about than the demonic ramifications of playing dress-up on Halloween.
When I was a kid in Detroit, we looked forward to Halloween in our neighborhood with no fear of the stuff folks get all bent out of shape over today.
It was fun for fun’s sake.
And having fun took a lot of planning.
We had to carefully plan our costumes because there simply was no such thing as a bought costume.
Maybe one or two of the girls had something that had been purchased for the occasion, but no guy worth spit would be caught dead in a store-bought costume.
I think if any guy I hung around with had gone out Trick-or-Treating in a bought costume, it would have been akin to wearing yellow ducky pajamas with fluffy bunny slippers — at deer camp.
You’re just asking to get punched.
We went out to Trick-or-Treat as hobos, baseball players, or mummies.
That was basically it.
We worked with the materials we had at hand.
Generally speaking, the moms I knew didn’t help much either.
Your Halloween costume was YOUR Halloween costume.
“Go get something together. I’m busy.”
So we did.
BUT ... that wasn’t the end of the game. We had to plan, and plan well.
In my neighborhood in Detroit, virtually every house gave out goodies on Halloween.
People weren’t worried about some manufactured theological issue.
There was no good or bad, spiritual or evil, sacred or profane. It was just Halloween. That’s all.
So … considering just about everyone and every house was involved in handing out candy; and considering that back in the day my mom almost never bought or supplied us with sweets of any kind; and taking into account that this was basically a one-night shot; and remembering that back then our “neighborhood” stretched across a multi-block area, we had a lot of ground to cover.
So … we scarfed up anything we could hold candy in — pillowcases, shopping bags, anything — and headed out to strategically hide them.
Like squirrels we would tuck our sack collection all over the neighborhood.
A pillowcase under a pile of leaves on Audubon.
An old laundry bag behind some shrubs on Bedford.
A good-sized grocery bag in Mrs. Mitten’s garage on Devonshire.
A collection of lunch bags on Haverhill.
We had caches set up all over the place.
Then ... we headed home to get decked out in our Halloween finest, and off we went.
Alone. No parents. Never.
This was a far more innocent time.
My parents wouldn’t have dreamed of following us around the neighborhood while we were Trick-or-Treating.
We wouldn’t have allowed it!
To have your mom trailing along while you were Trick-or-Treating?
It would have been devastating — to both the operation at hand and your reputation.
And honestly, there was no need. Not back then.
Now, my mom thought we had one bag. Full stop.
If she had known about all the extra bags she would have been mortified.
So we kept everything on the down-low — a “need to know” and “eyes only” situation.
We would do pretty good in our “haul.”
There were some disasters, however.
Once we stored ALL our extra bags under one monstrous pile of leaves.
When we arrived to collect the next bag after filling the first with goodies, we found the homeowner had lit the pile of leaves on fire. (You could do that back then, and it really added to the Halloween ambiance.)
All our reserve bags were going up in smoke, and there was no time to organize more without getting seriously caught by our mothers.
It was a very, very “dry” year.
Halloween used to be a ton of fun.
It still is, I think, for most folk.
And then there are the others who can’t help but get all worked up about some Satan-stuff that is really a relatively new development.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, take it easy and enjoy the “holiday.”
It just about kids being silly for one night.
Leave ‘em alone.