“Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble.”- Macbeth Act 4 Scene 1
I believe it was the 19th century Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard who said,” Hol-i-day, Cel-e-brate.” It was either him or Madonna. I so frequently get the two confused, although I know that she is the one with the leathery skin and the freakishly over developed upper arms. I on principle love the holidays and not just the big present giving ones but also the slightly over looked and often maligned lesser bank holidays. So whether it is the celebration of the birth of the Jesus, a national day of Thanksgiving, or even Arbor Day, I love to commemorate them all with raucous celebration. I do however find that as I, and more importantly my kids get older, I find some of the holidays are more of a struggle to enjoy than they used to be. Now, I am not talking about my issues with the over commercialization of Christmas nor the dirty look the guy at Home Depot gives me when ask him for directions to the “Leif Erikson Day” lights. I am speaking of that particular holiday that I am finding myself more perplexed by than others, All Hallow’s Eve. By the way for those of us that attended public school that means Halloween.
I know that I am not the only one that has issues with this beloved holiday. It seems that unlike Christmas or New Year’s which have a rather simple and easy to define emotional connection for most of us, Halloween seems to mean so many different things to different people and I am really struggling to make sense of what it means to me. It’s not just my emotional connection to the holiday that is confusing it seems to be that most people seem to have a strange relationship with the holidays as well. The question may arise on why I am thinking so deeply about Halloween on November 3. It is just that I have developed a new system of decision making where I wait at least 24 hours after an event to make any sound judgments about it. So if you want me to call 9-1-1 when you have a heart attack near me, you better call ahead. The reason for this is that I believe that if I start making less spur of the moment decisions then I could stop making some of the mistakes that happen when I just trust my instincts and this should avoid the mistakes of things such as my last haircut and that Friday night at R.V. City.
As has been well documented previously, I love living in Northeast Florida. In addition to the awesome weather, kind people and not having the pressure of having to worry about our local NFL team making the playoffs, we also have a diverse religious community. How diverse? We have Southern Baptist, missionary Baptist, united Baptist, separate Baptist and independent Baptist churches all within walking distance of each other. And despite their differences, all these communities of faith agree on two things, fidelity to the Holy Bible and an absolute abhorrence for Halloween. They detest this holiday on strictly spiritual grounds and I can respect that. And after spending an hour in line at the local party store to pay 50 bucks for basically a cowboy hat and a fake mustache, they just may be on to something. These religious persons and their fellow men of faith all reject Halloween on the grounds that the holiday is the basic repackaging of an ancient pagan holiday. My single rebuttal to that argument is that yes it is a pagan holiday, but it is a pagan holiday……..with CANDY…
Candy, oh how I love thee. To this day nothing quite warms the heart like your sweet sugary goodness. At this stage in my life, I have outgrown many things, and I am not just talking about those size 30 skinny jeans. I no longer put a lost tooth under my pillow and expect a quarter in the morning and I don’t need to look in my closet before bedtime to know that it is 97% monster-free. However, I do now and always will love candy. There are some weeks that I actually believe I wish my paycheck would consist of a box of Mike and Ikes and a king sized 3 Musketeer bar. Unfortunately, until the local utility provider accepts this same form of currency, I guess I should just stick with American Dollars. Candy, that sweet elixir that gives you the jittery feel of Meth without the need to sell your body on the street corner to get more. However, if Reese’s Cups are ever declared a controlled substance I might consider it. To this day, nothing gives me more joy that a really high quality candy. I am talking about Brach’s or a Whitman’s sampler, I love any candy that requires the inclusion of a map in the box’s lid. I am not, however, talking about Toblerone or any of the euro trash candies that the gourmet stores try to pass off on us hard working citizens. I am an American; I like my beer cold, my soup hot and my chocolate made by Hershey’s.
In apology to the religious of you that I may have offended, I understand that it is with noblest intentions that you schedule your Fall Festivals to give your kids an alternative to Halloween but understand the limitations you are operating under. Whenever some kid has said, “I am going to the Fall Festival”, please understand that the question they were responding to was, “What are you doing for Halloween?” It probably best if could focus your energies into the other grand mysteries of October 31. Mysteries like why the house down the street with the swimming pool and the Lexus in the driveway is giving out candy that I know came from the Dollar Store.
Just a few more thoughts about the cultural rituals of Halloween. I love taking the kids trick or treating. Nothing quite as fun as trying to keep a mixed group of young boys and girls hopped up on candy from crashing through the neighbors tulip garden in the quest for more candy. I am going to have to get a job hearding cats just to put the skills I developed on Halloween to good use. I also wish to apologize if I may offended the neighbors by complimenting them on the great ogre costume they put on their child, only to discover that they had just returned from the grocery store and the child had not yet put on their costume. That’s the other part of Halloween that I hate. It’s too hard to tell the costumed kids from the ones that are just plain fugly. While I am apologizing, I need to say one more thing. If your kid is a former classmate or teammate on his baseball team and we pass by each other while trick or treating, please don’t expect me to recognize them. I am tired, it’s late, it is pitch black on this street and your kid is in costume. So just wave and keep on walking.
Before we wrap up there are just a few rules of Halloween I feel compelled to share:
No matter how young your kid is, do not start trick or treating until it is dark. It is just sad.
You should not put younger children in costumes containing more than one piece or you will find yourself carry each discarded costume piece street after street
You must say “Trick or Treat” AND “Thank you”. If you don’t I get to keep your bag.
You must live within a 3 mile radius of the street you are trick or treating on. If I see an out of town license plate on your car…let’s just say you better like eggs
Kids who are trick or treating need to learn how to network. If you get a good haul from a house, tell your friends.
If there is no porch lite on, it means the house is out of candy or a pedophile lives there. Both are equally good reasons to stay away
There is no need to go as a scary clown. Facts are facts. ALL clowns are scary.
Parents, I should not be able to smell liquor on you as we pass, especially if I am on the opposite side of the street.
If you are female and under the age of 18, the word “sexy” should not have appeared on the package your costume came in.
If you are over 14 AND not in costume, you are not trick or treating. You are just a bum begging for candy and if you come to my house …let’s just say you better like eggs.
If your lazy butt decides to just leave a bowl of candy on the porch and a sign that says, “Please share”, my kid gets to keep the bowl.
You must remove all live carved pumpkins from your yard by 1201 a.m. on November 2. There is nothing sadder that watching a Halloween decoration slowly devolve into a failed science experiment.
I don’t care how cute you think it is, it’s a “pumpkin” not a “punkin”
Finally a word about safety, take a count of number of children and types of costume before beginning trick or treating and again at the end of the night. That means if you leave with one ninja, two witches and a zombie then you must return with one ninja two witches and a zombie. Identity is of no importance to me.
Well, I have to go now. I need to go find out where that zombie kid I brought home actually lives.