Halloween is the Greatest of Holidays

Jack O' Lantern - Public Domain ImageHalloween is probably the best and most controversial holiday, well, behind International Orgy Day on May 1st (Thanks, Jonathan Coulton). There is something special about spending an evening in the end of Autumn (or here in Missouri, early winter) filling a city with kids laughing and giggling as random strangers give them free candy and then send them home to their parents to complain about how they’re not allowed to eat any of their candy until after it has been gone through to ensure that it was safe.  You don’t really get a sense of community spirit from any other holiday like that, most of them are about family or celebrating you country by blowing up a small hunk of it.

I can remember being a kid and thinking about how awesome Halloween was for days ahead of time. There wasn’t a lot of money to waste on these things, so the costumes had to be creative and witty. I can remember a time when my mom took two pieces of posterHalloween Costumes - Public Domain board and put them together like a sandwich board sign, then drew hearts on the front to create a playing card costume.

I genuinely thought that was genius. Pure, creative genius.

Of course, as much as I have always loved costumes, and still do, Halloween was about one very important thing for me:

Gathering as much freakin’ candy as possible.

I am a fat guy, and I was a fat kid. Candy has a special place in my heart. It isn’t quite the love affair that I have with fried Halloween Candy - Public Domain chicken, but it is special, almost sacred. I loved Halloween because not only could I get a lot of it, but I also got a lot of variety of candy. No other time of year did I get so many different tasty things to eat. I a candy aficionado.

I remember that I had a candy ritual, after the Trick-or-Treating was over each year. I would sit on the floor with my haul poured out in front of me, and I would begin separating them out into types. Once I had all of the candy sorted by both type and brand, I could begin wheeling and dealing to make trades with my brothers and sister.

This was a significant part of my childhood experiences with the holiday.

In some ways, I’m beginning to feel sad for Halloween.

I’m not sure why, but 10-15 years ago, some crazy, religious people decided that it was a demonic holiday that turns all of the kids that participate in it into uncontrollable heathens. When I was in high school these places called “hell houses” started popping up in church basements, designed to show kids how they will be punished for any inappropriate behavior.

Honestly, I think my early paranoia and frustration with organized religion stems a bit from these things. I mean, Halloween is a good, clean, fun time that brings together neighborhoods. People I have lived near for years but never talked to will say, “Hi,” to me when their kids are pawing through my bowl of dum-dums. It builds community.

That is disappearing, too, as more and more people worry about their kids being poisoned or kidnapped while they are out trick-or-treating. Instead of going door-to-door, these days people go to things like “Trunk-or-Treat” at the Elementary school.

I can’t say I’m against the idea. It is safer that way, and if I was a kid, being able to hit that many candy givers in one place would be ideal! After all, a younger me had devised a strategy that involved hitting up the plethora of trailer parks in my hometown because you could literally hit hundreds of homes close together and pull in entire pillowcases full of candy.

It just saddens me to see this brilliant, fun holiday being transformed from a celebration of all the things that make being a kid fun, candy, pretend, playing dress-up, into aA Pile of Jack O' Lanterns - Public Domain n excuse for women to dress provocatively and men to drink themselves stupid.

Of course, I might just be getting old and bitter. I don’t have any kids of my own, so I don’t really get to see the excitement from that side, but last weekend I did get to see my friend’s six year old son basking in the glory of his “Link” costume. It had been creatively made from a green polo shirt.

He was ecstatic, and I was excited for him.

Man, I love Halloween.

5 thoughts on “Halloween is the Greatest of Holidays

  1. Stereo.* says:

    I hate Halloween. I can’t lie. I despise it. For all the reasons you’ve mentioned here.  I can’t wait for it to be over. I think Halloween is meant to be good, clean fun but sadly as times have changed, so has the holiday, which is sad but mostly frustrating. The kids in my area are terrors and it pains me to have to give them anything lest my house be egged into oblivion.  But we won’t get into that. I hope you enjoy the day and indulge in hot wings and a (responsible) amount of beer 😉

  2. Sara Olson-Liebert says:

    Halloween used to be so much cooler. Before it turned into Skankoween. I *really* thought I’d get pumped to do Halloween again since I’m a parent. But now, you’re either barraged with ‘spend as much as humanely possible’ or ‘you’re going to hell for dressing your kid as ANYTHING’ or ‘you’re going to hell if you don’t spend as much as humanely possible’. It’s a really weird situation.  So I try to keep it all focused on fun things. We check out Halloween books all month long from the library. Go to the Halloween activities around town that are cheap or free because really, Halloween for a kid should NOT COST YOUR LIFE SAVINGS. Costumes are always creative or second hand or a mix of both.

    I think as an adult, you should be allowed your wacky costumes and ‘treats’ of choice as well, but not necessarily have to inflict eyesores on my brain. And also, as adults? If you REALLY think Halloween is going to get hellhounds chasing your ass? Just. Keep. It. To. Your. Self. Let the chirren eat some damned candy. I swear they’ll brush their teeth afterwards. Let them watch the Great Pumpkin.  It’s Charlie Brown, not Satan. I wonder how many more people in this universe *truly* need Ativan so they can let the rest of us alone. Halloween used to be lots cooler, I do agree. But, I do *try* to make it cool as I can for my kids. As I cuss out each pumpkin I carve. ;P

    1. I am getting pretty tired of the politicizing of Halloween. I don’t go protesting other people’s holidays (except for Stab a Puppy Day, and even then I just signed a petition.)

      Halloween is about kids and candy.

      We need to take it back from drunken college students and psychotic religious extremists.

      Besides, I always get a little nervous when I see a person on the street telling me I’m going to hell. Each time, I swear it crosses my mind that they’re going to push a button, blow themselves up and prove themselves right.

      It should be legal for me to light them on fire, cut out the middleman.

  3. I agree, Matt! I love it. I embrace it and I am now watching it through my daughter’s eyes. It can be good for some and bad for others. I look at the positive side of it and the happy memories I have of it and hope I create the same for my little one.

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