I saw a bunch of really smug, pious people — OK, they were crazy — on television the other day babbling about the evils of Halloween and how it should be banned forever, nationwide, before our country is led down into a pit of depravity by a bunch of kids knocking on our doors and then smiling when we put miniature Snickers bars into their bags as their parents stand a few feet away, taking pictures with their phones.
At first, I laughed at them because they were all wild-eyed and ridiculous and desperate to cling to their 15 minutes of Fox News fame. But then I found myself becoming a little alarmed because what they were saying sounded eerily like what I’ve been hearing a few folks around town — and some even in my own neighborhood — talking about for a while now.
Their argument — and every year it’s the same — is that since Halloween is rooted in pagan tradition, we, as a Christian nation, shouldn’t have anything to do with it. I’ve got news for ’em, though. There are a whole bunch of things that we, as a Christian nation, shouldn’t be doing or approving of that I don’t hear any of the anti-Halloween crowd getting all twisted up about. For example, there’s the blatant lying behind the presidential seal and Orwellian propaganda and blatant racism and Trump-worship, things I can’t really see Jesus himself taking part in.
Seriously, I really can’t imagine Jesus, with everything else going on in the world, getting upset in the least about a group of 6-year-olds in Scooby-Doo costumes or wearing fairy princess wings chorusing out a heart-felt “Thaaaank Yoooooou!” in their chirpy, little 6-year-old voices whenever someone unloads a handful of cheap candy on them on the one night of the year they believe they’re actually getting away with something.
Besides, he’s got his hands full with college football season. Those touchdowns aren’t gonna make themselves, you know.
The media is filled these days with stories about the rise in childhood afflictions such as ADD, ADHD and even depression, maladies rarely heard of in ones so young 20 or 30 years ago. I don’t have any doubts that these conditions exist, and I have absolutely no idea what to do about them, but I do think all of us, the grown-ups in the room, should do the right thing and at least take partial responsibility for weirding out a whole generation of kids.
Maybe these kids’ anxieties come from witnessing their parents constantly being told how to act or what to think or how to dress or how to worship by a bunch of folks who have no lives of their own outside of meddling with someone else’s. That’s enough to screw up anybody’s head, especially if you’re a kid.
Maybe if everybody took a break from all the obsessing and constant complaining about what everybody else is up to, or the rampant paranoia these days regarding another human being’s skin color or religion or who they choose to love, our kids could all relax a little bit and grow up with the idea that it’s actually OK to think for themselves or, even better, just be themselves.
It’s just a theory, that’s all.
One thing I really, really hate about being a “grown-up” though, is that it is no longer socially acceptable for me to participate in Halloween the way I used to. I’ll admit that it would be kind of weird for me to walk the streets of my neighborhood wearing a Thundaar the Barbarian costume and begging for candy, but I’d get a kick out of it.
I still like the anticipation of Halloween. It’s the best night of the year as far as I’m concerned. I like carving jack-o-lanterns and watching the horror-movie marathons on obscure cable channels. I like the fact that Halloween is all about innocent pretending, that costume scariness can take our minds off of — if only for a little while –— some of the real fears we face just trying to walk through the world every day.
As for those of you who believe our souls are in peril because we find a little fun in all the bad costumes, bad candy and bad Halloween-themed commercials from local car dealerships and furniture outlets, that’s OK. You have every right in the world to rail against whatever it is you want to rail against.
I just sincerely hope you fail miserably in your crusade to take Halloween away from the rest of us and replace it with “fall festivals” or whatever else lame things y’all may come up with. It’ll still be Halloween.
And, besides, if you don’t want to join in, save your own soul and just keep the porch light off and don’t set out a jack-o-lantern. Even a 6-year-old dressed up as a carrot will read you loud and clear.
For the rest of y’all, if a bald, 60-year-old dressed as Thundaar the Barbarian shows up at your door tonight, I can absolutely assure you that, um, it won’t be me.
And he likes Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.