I learned something this past weekend- Halloween is dying. Perhaps not across the board, but where I live now there is a definite, substantial decrease in the quality of the scariest night of the year. Maybe it is just my perception. Maybe where you live, Halloween is a living, thriving event. Perhaps that is the hope for which I am holding out.
When I was growing up, I recall that I was once d’Artagnan, swashbuckling hero known as the Fourth Muskateer. I had a sword and a homemade outfit (Feathered hap excepted). Another year, while my brother was a mailbox, I was the Space Pumpkin. A set of long johns spray painted silver and a large, plastic pumpkin as a helmet were all that was needed. We went to the local parade where we were judged for our creativity. The streets were crawling with witches, ghosts and goblins… and mailbox-guiding Space Pumpkins.
This last weekend I saw virtually no one walking the streets. People were all over the local strip mall, where stores posted flyers in the windows so that kids knew they could come in to get candy- and parents could get drooling looks from employees working on commission. I admit that I brought my kids (and some friends) to our office Halloween party, where each scored at least a half-reusable-grocery bag of sugar… er… candy. It took me hours to filter out all of the bad stuff.
But I also took my kids around the neighborhood. There were two or three well-decorated houses. The guys down the street converted their garage into a mini haunted house, complete with Scary-Chainsaw-Guy as you exited. But for all of the Halloween hoopla, scarcely 5 percent of the houses had their lights on to indicate they were playing. My little witch and Mortal Combat dude had tired legs because of how hard we had to work to get a respectable haul.
Halloween is becoming a shell of its past. Are we that commercial? I see it in Christmas and New Year’s; not so much for some other holidays like The Fourth of July and even Thanksgiving. But Halloween has always been a sacred event. It was a time when kids snuck around and pranked their friends. It was a time when we got together and decided what to MAKE ourselves for Halloween, not what costume we were going to fork over dozens of dollars for.
Like much of our culture, our past, Halloween is fading into obscurity. The satisfaction of doing it ourselves, seeing the looks on peoples faces as you reveal the closely-guarded costume secret; perhaps winning some cool contest because of it. For the kids, at least, it is becoming ghostly pale in comparison to the days of my youth. Somewhere, the black cat crossed our path and we are suffering for it.
The revolution is at hand. Will you be a leader or a follower?