Friday, January 2, 2009

Halloween Past - Previously published Nov. 8, 2005 on Live Journal

Wind like
moon's breath
cold as black bottom seas
leaf-witches on twig brooms
a storm of tiny white wings:
Halloween snow

I meant to write this before now, but a bad cold has kept my energy low. So, though a week late, here is the Halloween entry I intended to write.

I love Halloween. I have great memories of a school carnival AND trick or treating, and being so excited I couldn't even eat my dinner. Our street was filled with groups of kids going up and down to each house. This last Halloween night my mom said she got a total of 5 kids in one group only. All the kids on my old street have grown up and moved away. It's all older folks living there now, I guess. I also think people are paranoid. It is media hype, of course. The razor in the apple is an urban legend. No one can track down who it ever happened to or IF it ever really happened. Poison in candy: the most known instances are parents poisoning their own kids. One guy who poisoned and killed his son (and tried but failed with his daughter) was sentenced to death...on Halloween. He was executed (I think it was in New York state but don't quote me on that) a few years ago on Halloween. Two years ago when Halloween fell on the exact date of the Renaissance Faire in Escondido (a Sat.) my significant other Della and I went to the mall down the road for dinner and the mall was filled to the brim with hundreds of trick or treaters. It was a cold night and the indoor mall allowed kids freedom. The stores had barrels of candy and the kids just went from store to store. It's a two story mall so there was lots of candy to be had. I guess that's a pretty good idea for trick or treating if you don't want to go into dark neighborhoods.

However, I find the dark neighborhood atmosphere is a MUST or you lose the whole flavor. My memory of Halloween, GOOD memories, are all wrapped up with the shadows and the dim lights in the house windows and the jack o'lanterns glowing. You can't get that affect in a well-lighted indoor mall. While stores decorate, it just isn't the same as being with a group of kids and venturing down a lonely road or front path to some house with glowing eyes in the window panes. And the cold wind blowing through your thin costume. And the stars twinkling overhead. And distant unseen kids yelling, dogs barking. And thinking that anything could be hiding behind that next shadowy bend. I love it. And if kids live in dangerous gang-filled neighborhoods, then like the farm kids my friend Taerie grew up with, they should be driven to safe neighborhoods and enjoy. In fact, that in itself it a great adventure. Taerie told me that when she was little and lived in the country, she and her siblings and friends used to have the neighborhoods picked out and mapped weeks in advance, anticipating the glories of real trick-or-treating.

In my mind, it seems a shame that extremist fear keeps kids from enjoying that old-fashioned thrill. I am all for keeping kids safe, and I understand a parent's worry. But kids can be chaperoned and still feel that wind, that darkness, that sense of adventure and unknown. To keep that from children by raising them in homogenized, pasteurized, well-lit disinfected environments stunts their spirit, their creative soul-spark. If you do not instill mystery, the excitement of the unknown, and wonder in a child, you quite possibly ensure the stunted growth of an unhappy robot. Kids need to explore, souls need to grow. Halloween is one opportunity for lighting that spark, from which, sometimes, entire constellations are born.

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