It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Halloween can be traced to ancient times, when some pagans set aside a day to commemorate the end of summer. The spirits of dead people returned to earth at this time, they believed, taking the forms of cats and witches and the like. Fearful that these spirits might do them harm, people attempted to scare them away by building fires and displaying pictures of grotesque faces. They would also place food offerings at their doors, hoping that any visiting spirits would take the treat and forget the trick. Our lighted carved pumpkins, masks, and trick-or-treat rituals have their origins in these practices. …Richard Moaw

Every year schools around the country have similar discussions. Should Halloween be celebrated? Well, let’s think. Other than it recalling happy pasts in us adults, feeding the economy and keeping dentists in starched, monogrammed shirts, why DO we make it such a big deal? Is it a tip of the hat to paganism, carrying on our country's proud tradition, or just one more reason to go out drinking? 

It has morphed into a day no pagan framer would even recognize. We used to have fun planning and making our costumes with materials that didn’t include petroleum products and chainsaws. Weeks were spent in preparation. Now we're out the day before the school Halloween parade, rummaging through what is left of the multi-colored plastic bag costumes with stretch elastic and hard plastic masks of George Bush and Snow White.

Back in the day we went for miles in search of more candy, and not in our parents’ cars either. We did it old school, running and screaming. It was all about accumulation and we feared no food or distributor. One year my own father handed out ice cream cones. We had a line at the door and no one thought twice about eating the stuff. Now candy is x-rayed and parent approved. There is talk that Homeland Security may start setting up screening booths on street corners across America, just in case.

Worse than all of that, with everyone being so overweight in America some people are actually handing out stickers, pencils or toothbrushes. Are you kidding me? That would never have happened when Trick or Treat was all about the treats. No matter how hungry you are, a sticker just doesn’t cut it. I must applaud the efforts of the manufacturers of Bible Bars, Testamints, and Kosher Pops, however.

Another thing...Time was when Trick or Treat was at night. That’s what made it fun. That was the edge that Halloween needs. For those of us afraid of the dark, that was enough to make it the scary event it was meant to be. Now kids go house to house even during Packer games! Rather than miss that, many folks just stick a bowl of candy out front with a sign that says, “Take just one.” Teenagers have those completely emptied by the time the XXXL Brett Favre jersey closes his screen door and goes for the chips.

It is an ironic holiday, children knocking on the doors of strangers we otherwise tell them to stay away from and filling bags full of crap we otherwise tell them not to eat. If it must remain, I propose this. There should be an opt-out clause of sorts if we know we have no intention of giving away food muchless getting up and walking across the room. Here's the idea: Front porch lights on if you want kids at your doorstep and lights out if you don‘t. That way there will be no disappointing dead end destinations for kids and no resentments about buying candy for children whose parents are richer than they are, for adults. There will be no wasted time for those who have been transported from miles away or walk all the way from Whitefish Bay. Best yet, there will be no need to miss even one minute of The Bachelor. Ahhh…the holiday season begins. Buckle your seat belts.


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