Every year, somewhere around Oct. 31, the debate over should we or shouldnt we celebrate Halloween always rears its lantern-shaped head, casting limited light on the situation, and making much ado about nothing.
Im reminded of someone straining to read a Danielle Steel novel with a 7-watt bulb; its hardly worth the effort.
One side seems almost fanatically opposed to any and all symbols or signs surrounding popular autumnal activities, such as apple-bobbing, pumpkin-carving, or even broom-riding, which leaves a lot of people I know in a pinch for alternative transportation.
These folks swear on a stack of Gideon Bibles that allowing our younguns to go door to door clamoring for fun-size candy bars and spider rings is the first step to ushering them down a one-way avenue to hell.
But Satans not necessarily at the end of a highway paved with half-eaten gummy worms or discarded vampire teeth. Oh, the devil is among us; make no mistake about that. But hes just as likely to be found sitting behind you in church as he is to be toting a misguided chainsaw or flying an airplane into a crowded skyscraper. And its doubtful hed advertise his presence by carrying a pitchfork or wearing horns, a costume I think Fat Mans probably still has available for $29.95.
The other point of view insists that dressing up as everything from a ghoul to Gumby is as innocent as dying Easter eggs or sending Valentines.
They believe that the entire holiday, with all its traditional silliness, is a harmless ritual that merely provides cute memories and extra income for all the starving dentists lurking about.
My personal opinion rests somewhere in-between, depending upon a myriad of circumstances and intentions, though if backed into a corner, or an Iron Maiden, Id probably pledge my allegiance to the latter perspective every time.
I never even thought about Halloween all that much before I had children. Much like others of my generation and relatively rural setting, there just werent all that many places to haunt when I was growing up, unless you could get your mama to drive you around. And we all know that was back in the good old days when no self-respecting parent could be bullied into doing anything he didnt want to do, especially if "Gunsmoke" was on.
You wanna what? The trick will be if you can get your behind in there and do your homework before I treat it to a visit from Mr. Flyswatter!
Funny thing, though. I dont believe any of us baby boomers were irreversibly damaged by either being allowed to partake of Halloween festivities, or by being denied them.
However, my own boys do love the whole shebang. Ever since they were tiny, the night has held undeniable magic. Ill never forget when our now teen-ager was about 2, and toddled up to his first door, to be greeted by a shower of goodies; he squealed with unadulterated joy, Daddy, it works!
But I guess it does seem kind of stupid to stumble around the neighborhood just to get a little candy. Maybe we should send Junior out to beg for bigger stuff: Trick or dinner at La Maison! Trick or Visa payment! Trick or new car!
What worries me most is where all this controversy might end. Whats next? Will radical vegetarians picket Butterball facilities come Thanksgiving? And should we keep mentioning those elves supposedly making a bajillion toys at The North Pole? Isnt that just a little too much like those South American sweatshops? And that goofy grinch story - well, that will have to go too, because its just, well, awfully bizarre, isnt it?
Plus, Im not even going to get into the implications of the whole fertile bunny/vernal equinox issue.
Maybe Halloween does have some gruesome aspects attached to it - those people in Louisville with the electric chair execution display give me the creeps - but if we can look past all the foolishness, perhaps even approach it with a sense of humor, we might just see another chance to show generosity and friendliness to one another.
Now wouldnt that be a concept? Turn ugliness, things we might generally associate with corruption and wrongdoing, into a perfect opportunity to outdo one another in showing love and honor.
(Mindy Jeffers is a local free-lance writer.)
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