Halloween has always been my favorite holiday.
Over the years I've thought long and hard about why this might be the case. Here are some of the reasons I've come up with:
----- Most other holidays are either religious or national in character. As such, they're rather provincial and exclusionary. Halloween transcends limits rather than imposes them.
----- Most other holidays seem to impose themselves on me. There's little room for personal creativity. Halloween, in contrast, allows us to be as creative with our costumes and our decorations as we want to be.
----- Most other holidays insist that we be Christian or American or seriously thankful for our food or at least halfway appreciative of hard-drinking Irish buffoons - whatever. Halloween is the one holiday that frees us from ourselves. We get to choose to be whoever - or whatever - we want.
----- Halloween empowers us to go out into the often off-limits night in the mask of our choice and interact with strangers, whatever their class or race or religion or ethnic origins. In some ways, it seems to be the holiday that most closely links neighbors together and creates the illusion - if only for a few brief hours - that we're all in this together.
All of which is after-the-fact analysis, of course. One of the best things about Halloween is that it's about dressing up and getting treats and having fun - not anything weighty. If Halloween conveys any message at all, it seems to be little more than "Don't get caught by the psycho with the chainsaw!"
In fact, Halloween is so unserious, it even allows us to make fun of the most serious subjects of all - insanity, dismemberment, and death.
My only quarrel with the way we celebrate it is this: Some towns refuse to treat it with the respect it deserves and shift trick-or-treat hours from Oct 31 to more "convenient" times.
My own town - like many in central Ohio - told the treaters to make their rounds last night. Why? Well, because Friday this time of year is all about high school football, and Sunday is of course The Lord's Day, and Saturday night - well, I guess Saturday night belongs to the drunk drivers. The bottom line is that Halloween was officially observed days earlier than it should have been, and, well... that's just wrong.
Or maybe I should say that's just WRONG for all those people who believe in absolute morality.
I mean, really - would any town council declare December 28 to be New Year's Day? Would any community in all of Ohio take it upon itself to declare July 1 the best day to celebrate American independence because of a conflict with a golf tournament? Would Christians start celebrating Christmas on December 22 if their city leaders told them that was for the best? I doubt it. Why are we lovers of Halloween expected to just grin and bear it? Is it because people who dress up as clowns appear to be pushovers? Is it because little girls in princess outfits have yet to be granted the right to vote? You'd think things might be different in Chicago, where the dead have been known to vote early and often, but no - the cops there want us to limit our doorbell ringings and front porch beggings to daylight hours!
Ok, well, we are talking about Chicago. Maybe that's not such a bad idea. Still....
The sad fact is that it's only October 29 here and Halloween has already officially come and gone. *Sigh*
Maybe if I'd had more than ONE solitary treater come to my door last night, I'd feel differently. As it is, I already can't wait for next October. And the October after that! Heck, given the way Halloween went last night, I think I have enough candy for the next 100 or so Halloweens!
What do you think? Were my pumpkins too scary? Is that what kept the kids away?
Maybe next year I should carve a watermelon instead?