Friday, October 31, 2003

The Scary Part 

When I was in grammar school, the two things I loved best about Halloween were the class party and trick or treating at the Maxwell’s house. Oh, yeah…and the chocolate of course.

OK, so when I was in grammar school, the three things I loved best about Halloween were the class party, trick or treating at The Maxwell’s house, and the chocolate. Oh, yeah…and the kooky costumes, too.

OK, so when I was in grammar school, the four things I loved best about Halloween were the class party, trick or treating at The Maxwell’s house, the chocolate, and the costumes. That about covers it.

Can you tell I was a little fond of Halloween back then?

THEN: At school, we always had a class party at the end of the day. We moved our desks into a big circle around the edge of the room (for some reason I absolutely loved this), and everybody shared candy. We got to wear costumes to school and if the weather was nice we would have a Halloween parade on the playground. (Although, is it really considered a parade when everybody is IN the parade, and nobody’s watching?)

NOW: The Christian Right actively tries to squash such Halloween celebrations, stating that children who celebrate it are “consorting with demonic forces, and parents who condone it are imperiling their children's immortal souls”. (That’s a direct quote from Pat Robertson, who can be pretty scary sometimes, if you ask me!) Check out these sites about the anti-Halloween movement, if you don’t believe me:

THEN: Since I was a “walker” (in other words, I lived less than a mile from school so no bus service was provided), after school we got to trick or treat the entire way home. (With lots more stay-at-home mothers back then, trick or treating started as soon as school let out in my hometown.) My favorite place to trick or treat was at Billy Maxwell’s house. Billy’s mom gave out hot buttered popcorn in small wax bags. It was always hot when we got it, and we always ate it immediately. We would sometimes try to sneak back there a second time later, but somehow she always knew who we were.

NOW: If I tried to give out hot buttered popcorn to the kids who come to my door, nobody would be allowed to eat it because they have been instructed not to eat anything that doesn’t come in a sealed package, or that hasn’t been pre-inspected by their parents. There are entire web pages set up just to put forth the Halloween safety agenda:

THEN: Coming up with a Halloween costume consisted of one of two methods: 1) If you were a kid, you wanted to go to the local drug store and buy one. These costumes consisted of highly flammable non-breathable material and a hot sweaty plastic mask secured to your head by a very uncomfortable stretchy cord. I still remember the way these masks smelled and how difficult they were to breathe in. I loved ‘em. 2) If you were a mom, you sometimes tried to “get creative” and make a costume for your child. These costumes ranged from the glued and stapled to the expertly sewed, and usually embarrassed the wearer to no end.

NOW: There are entire seasonal (which means they open around the end of August nowadays) stores devoted to selling amazingly cool (and amazingly expensive) Halloween costumes. You can also buy or rent entire costumes right on the Internet:

I’m not that fond of Halloween anymore. Although I still love the chocolate.

It’s not that I don’t think that the Christian Right doesn’t have a right to their opinion (Halloween does have a rather interesting origin, after all). It’s not that think kids shouldn’t be safe and follow their parents’ Halloween rules. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the ultra-cool mass-made costumes (some of them are true works of art).

It’s just that times have changed, and I find that truly scary.
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