For the innocent, Halloween is witches ‘n pumpkins, ghosts ‘n goblins, black cats and tricks or treats. For the humorless, it’s a time of evil … a celebration of the occult culminated by a Devil’s Night. That’s the same crowd who would tell a kid there is no Santa Claus … never realizing his true identity.
Charlie Brown believes that “The Great Pumpkin” will rise from the pumpkin patch and fly through the air, bringing presents to all good little boys and girls. Of course, Chuck is also the one who always falls for Lucy’s football trick and lands on his back when she pulls it away. He may have his holidays a little mixed up but, all things considered, I think he captures the right spirit.
For me, Halloween is the gateway holiday. It heralds the start of the most wonderful time of year, where Thanksgiving is the ‘top of the stretch’ and Christmas is the finish line. Substitute Hanukkah for Christmas where my Jewish friends are concerned, and toss a handful of lesser holidays into the blender to whip up a hefty helping of political correctness for the rest. I simply don’t celebrate everything … but, unlike those who seem to be missing the bone in their head that says “Other people are entitled to have different beliefs than you,” I don’t feel offended by anyone expressing those beliefs. I purposely left out New Years because that’s a holiday geared mostly toward grownups, and I’ve been trying to avoid that condition for years!
Kids bring holidays to life. When our crew was home, Vigi somehow always managed to make a special day into an entire season … even birthdays. So from Halloween on, we had seasons within seasons! While I still enjoy turning a pumpkin into a jack-o’-lantern, I’m afraid my costume donning days came to a screeching, grinding halt with the Gorilla suit. Without going into eye-glazing detail, suffice to say that it was a hit at the party, a riot in traffic and ‘Jungle Jane’ was a tad bulkier than I thought as I attempted to carry her through the door. Your imagination can do the rest.
When I was an actual kid, I dressed up as everything from a cowboy to a clown … a monster to my own sister. Mom’s shoes even fit me for a few years and a ‘babushka’ covered my short hair instead of a wig. I completely abused grapefruits! I did the usual door-to-door thing but, somehow, could never bring myself to say “Trick or treat!” It was always, “Anything for Halloween?” I think one old curmudgeon on the block was a Socialist, because he used to take candy out of my bag and give it to the next kid. Mr. Kreitzer notwithstanding, Halloween was a blast!
Then something in our society changed. The wholesomeness disappeared. It was the old story of a few spoiling it for everyone else … probably part of the “Santa is dead” crowd. One day there were rumors of razor blades in apples; then they weren’t rumors anymore. By the time my kids were ready for trick or treating, sickos were actually poisoning candy … parents started buying treats for their own kids and keeping them home. It eliminated both liability for the adults and danger for the children, all in one fell swoop. Some parents staged private parties but it just wasn’t the same. So much for one of the great joys of kidhood.
I’m not exactly sure what they do for Halloween anymore. We live at the top of a very long, very steep, wooded driveway … the perfect setting for hidden ghosts and goblins. But in seven years we’ve never had a kid haunt our doorstep. I have an electronic doorbell that I program with spooky sounds and still put out the pumpkin. I refuse to give it up, completely. My memories are too good to waste and Halloween will always mean the beginning of all those magical holidays.
Besides, no matter what the changes, in my heart I’ll always know my Dad really was the strongest guy on the block, Superman really can fly and Santa Claus is not only alive and well … but he is me!
Listen to Bananas Crackers and Nuts Podcast. Find Links under “Recent Podcasts”… and more shows on my Podcast Page.