Over on Twitter (pamelamorris65) and Facebook, I’ve been putting up a daily post about Halloween. It’s been fun finding out new things about my favorite holiday. This morning I saw a news story about a school that has canceled their Halloween celebration because of its religious overtones. I’ve mixed feeling about that. Part of me says, “Well, that sucks!” Another part says, “I hope they cancel all their Christmas events at that school, too.” I’ve never labeled myself as being ‘politically correct’ but I do try and not label and judge people based on religion, race, sexual preference, etc. As long as people don’t shove their personal labels in my face or try to jam them down my throat, I really don’t care who you pray to, from whose loins you sprang or what you do in the privacy of your own bedroom with another consenting adult.
As a kid I never associated Halloween with religion. It was a time to dress up and play pretend with everyone else in the town. It was time to get free candy. That was it. Maybe it’s a good thing that Halloween is finally being recognized as what it really started out as. I’m all for the separation of Church (aka Religion) and State. However, if you are going to do that to Halloween, I think it’s only fair we look at the history of Christmas and Easter and the beliefs from which almost everything about those two holidays grew from, too. Sorry if I burst some of your bubbles but both have some very Pagan roots. Be all that as it may, I didn’t intend this to be a post about religion so I’ll cut that vine before it grows any longer.
The first costume I clearly remember was one of those store bought, hard plastic masks with a pull over, pre-printed smock dress. I wanted to be Sleeping Beauty but I guess she wasn’t popular enough and I ended up as Cinderella. My brother, now he was an original, he was a giant, paper mache carrot. Yes, you read that right – a carrot! Maybe I should have gone as a rabbit. I dunno. He had, and still has, some pretty crazy ideas. A carrot… really?
The next costume I recall was recycled from the previous June’s Kiddie Parade hosted by our volunteer fire department. I was Little Red Riding Hood, complete with Big Bad Wolf. Okay… it was really our sweet and gentle German Sheppard but damn, I was cute! It was during that year I first experienced Halloween Mayhem. I was too little to control the dog myself so my big brother, dressed as the Woodsman, chaperoned myself and the Wolf to the fire station for their Halloween party about two blocks away. Old car tires were burning in the middle of the street. Lines of gasoline had been run across the road and ignited. Glass bottles and pumpkins were smashed everywhere. We trick or treated on our way there, got more candy at the party along with cider, donuts and the apples we bobbed for. I think we won a prize.
Years passed and I soon started making my own costumes. I was a vampire more times than I care to admit. One of my best friends and I dressed up like two of the members from KISS. She was Paul Stanley (on roller skates) and I was Ace Frehley. My dad helped make the platform shoes I wore. A few years later a different bestie and I were Dracula and his bride. I got to be Dracula. There was a sexy witch in there someplace, too. My final trick or treat costume was the Grim Reaper. I think it snowed that year. I remember wearing a lot of layers under that big, black robe anyway. I was, believe it or not, seventeen when I finally decided I was too old. Now I hear about kids saying they are too old when they are twelve. That makes me sadder than the idea of a school not doing Halloween.
Eventually, I had kids of my own and the fun of Halloween returned in all its glory. I could dress up and go trick or treating again and no one would question it! YEAH! For years we decorated the house in a big way even asking friends to dress up and act as extras in the display. Droves of kids and parents came to the door. Gobs of candy was handed out. Now – my kids are grown. My son will be twenty-three in less than a week and my daughter is twenty. With no grand-babies in the near future, it’s going to be a long time before I get to go trick or treating again. I am hoping to attend my first Zombie Walk in a couple weeks though. I can’t help but wonder how many other people have “Participate in a Zombie Walk” on their Bucket List.
You hear a lot about how kids today lack any imagination due to television, video games and the like. If that’s the case, couldn’t Halloween be marketed as a Festival of the Imagination instead? If you could be anything you wanted to be, real or imagined, what would you be? On that one day you could become that thing. Let’s not take away something so valuable to our society, our sense of wonder and fun. Our sense of play is squashed enough as it is once we reach adulthood. We keep saying our kids are growing up too fast and yet we, the adults, are the ones that are making them do it. Taking away Halloween is like taking away part of being a kid. It’s pretend. It’s the one time of year we can maybe, just maybe, all get along regardless of religion, race and sexual orientation. Heck, even Jesus thought we should be more like children.
Keep the spirit of Halloween alive in your heart. For me, that’s being like a child, playing dress up and pretend. Don’t let “The Man” take away your sense of fun and wonderment or, most importantly, your fair portion of free candy!
HAPPY FESTIVAL OF THE IMAGINATION!