Monday, October 31, 2011

Who's Taking Back Halloween?

On walks after dark, I don't venture too much into the park. It is safe, but I'm cautious so I hug the streets near houses. One evening, I encountered an inflatable decoration of a black stagecoach, carrying a pumpkin with a Grinch-like face. The Grinch who stole Halloween, got me to remembering.
Saturday evening gobbling the pliable caramel pop corn Katie made brought a memory of homemade pop corn balls we got as treats for Halloween. In our plastic masks and paper thin cloth coverings as skeletons, princesses, or Batman, many homemade treats were offered: apples, plain or candied, cookies, and the big pop corn balls. Huge candy bars also made the mix, no small penny candy, unless it was a man size handful.
Knocking on the door, we were expected to come into the homes to be guessed about our identities. One couple, Grace and Sam Clarke, down Main Street, decorated their home and wore white sheets as ghosts talking to each other to question who we were. Maybe scary music in the background. The whole trick or treat in those days was a neighborhood event.
In first grade, my sister, Gerri Lee, must have been home from college because we went all over the town, even up over the viaduct to my teacher's home. Gerri Lee had graduated with her son. Mrs. Nottingham used that clue of who escorted me to acknowledge me. I was thrilled. I believe that was the year I ate too much candy causing me to be very sick.
Years later, another home health nurse and I cared for Mrs. Nottingham. She knew what year she taught us and who was in our class. She was such a caring teacher.
In sixth grade, I felt I was too old for trick or treat. I passed out the candy to now kids from all over, no more a neighborhood happening. My parents living on Main Street attracted up to 300 kids and teenagers, that didn't even bother with costumes, at which my mom made known her displeasure . They just grinned sheepishly.
My mom rescued me that night from being a treat giver, encouraging me to don a mask and go to the neighbors. I gleefully did that, feeling giddy as I embraced the last of childhood.
I have always loved seeing the children in their costumes. Some are very creative.
For awhile, there was the Tylenol scare and always the threat of razors in apples or candy bars. Halloween was being kidnapped.
And then, the glorification of death for this fun day, made me dread October. Fake blood, bodies hanging from trees, and truly gory images ruined an otherwise beautiful season. Why all the details? Nice spider webs, bats and black cats with cute little ghosts was enough for me.
The death decorating doesn't seem to be as overwhelming as that time around the 1990's, I've observed. As an adult having Christian beliefs, Halloween has been a mixed bag for me. Have I walked the fence with my children? Children love to dress up, play make believe, and especially love candy. I chose to dress them as Bible characters to counteract all the evil. I do dislike the greed also associated with this day. One year the youth group did a reverse Trick or Treat, handing out candy in costume. But I could never, ever not hand out treats to the children. Jesus welcomed the children. He didn't have a turned off porch light. As I give them the Milky Ways, I pray they will know the Maker of the milky way.
Money at times has limited my extravagant treat giving. One year I made treat bags with an article about Halloween and following Jesus. I believe we have to take back this day. And as always, to God be the glory. He made all days and to each one, we are to rejoice in it.
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