Year two of the big house was a success, but more important to me the act of Trick or Treating was a success.
It’s no secret to those of you who read my blog regularly that I love Halloween. That I build crazy stuff to scare people on this great day, and that I perhaps go a bit overboard, building a giant, semi-portable haunted house not once, but twice every year.
This year’s house used last year’s basic construction, but the inside was completely different. And we scared people, oh yes we did. But it wasn’t about scaring people that makes me do Halloween. It’s something else entirely.
It’s all about patriotism.
Now before you click away thinking I’m gonna go all right wing extreme and tell you about my hell house and if you don’t turn away from the evil ways of the left you’ll end up as a permanent exhibit in my house, think again. This isn’t the flag waving kind of patriotism I’m talking about. It’s much deeper and more fundamental.
It’s about community and responsibility and shared burden and shared joy. It’s about a fundamental trust that American can and should share with their neighbors. And by neighbors, I’m not talking about the guy next to you, but the community at large.
Think about it a minute and you’ll quickly see that there is nothing more trusting in a community than the act of trick or treating. Here is a planned activity where you take your most prized possession, your children, and send them out into the world on the trust that the ghosts and goblins aren’t real, and that they are safe in the company of strangers.
You send your children, either on their own or from the street, to the doors of often complete strangers. You expect that the person you do not know will open their door and give your children a small treat that is perfectly safe and mostly harmless (aside from caloric or dental damage) and will then send them away, to go to a new door of a new stranger to repeat the process over again.
And millions of American children did that this past weekend. Went to strangers doors and got candy or pennies or something else of little worth but representing great fun for the child.
And that, dear readers, is basic American Patriotism. The community coming together to celebrate a night of fun and foolishness, of helping each other out and being, for a brief moment, a community.
And now, for the dark side of Halloween. The part I hate. I hate “Hell Houses” that try to take the haunted out of Halloween and instead “scare” kids and parents alike into a religious belief. I hate “Fall Festivals” designed to kill Halloween altogether. Personally, I think Churches that plan so called “Fall Festivals” with the intention of enticing kids away from trick or treating are more than just misguided, they are pulling a great evil on us all. They are subtly telling us that trick or treating isn’t safe, that such a wonderful act of trust, freedom and community is somehow wrong and should be stopped. That the ghosts and goblins are real and need to be avoided instead of faced down and overcome. I could never support a church that attempted to “replace” Halloween.
Now I’m not against parties or festivals in general. I love our trunk or treat, which has NEVER conflicted with Halloween’s trick or treat. I love fall festivals that are early enough to end with plenty of time to allow for trick or treating. And I support the idea of private Halloween parties where the trick or treating is part of the fun. But the idea that Halloween needs to be replaced is to suggest that America is not a safe place. That the news has won and there is a child abductor on every street corner and a child molester under every street light. And that simply isn’t true.
In fact, the chances that something bad happens to a child on Halloween is pretty low. The scare of the 80’s with razor blades in apples and poison in candy turned out to be false, plants by parents seeking publicity and fame. Halloween is good, clean community fun punctuated with scary masks and fun costumes. And on one street in Huntsville, Al a ghostly mansion that rises out of the mists of time to swallow children whole. For about a minute. Before giving them candy and sending them on their way, bragging that they weren’t scared. And I’ll never let anyone know that the 12 year old boy that fell to the ground crying this year also wet his pants. Really, I wont.