Check Your Calendar
It’s time once again to watch the endless parade of people knock at your door and beg for things. Yes, it’s Election Day. But since nobody likes talking about politics, I will instead bore you with thoughts of Halloween.
They were a pretty good group until Phil Collins left. Of course, they were never as good as the Beatles or Mungo Jerry, for that matter.
The name Halloween is actually a contraction from the words “All Hallows Evening,” and was intended to be a time where we remember those who have passed on. It was supposed to be a day on which we honored their spirits. Looks like things have changed. Now it seems like the day is a time to dress like an autopsy with legs and to stuff our faces with sweets that people give to us. (Am I really that far off with this description?)
Oh, don’t get me wrong – when we were kids, we loved it, too – maybe even more than kids do now. I mean, who could pass up all that free candy? Not me! I hit every house in town and didn’t stop until my parents dragged me inside and tried to calm me down from the sugar high I got from sampling my treats along the way. Good times!
So What Changed?
First of all, Halloween used to be a simple holiday. Now it’s organized, analyzed and commercialized. Parents now have to act as bodyguards and escort kids from door to door for safety. It is necessary, but still sad because of that necessity. Kids cannot eat everything they are given until their bounty is x-rayed and screened for booby traps, hidden objects, poison or drugs.
Gone are the days when your mom could cut holes in an old sheet, and voila – you had a Halloween costume! That would never cut it any more. Kids would just laugh at you. And on top of that, they’re not safe. They could catch fire (personally, I don’t know any kid who ever caught fire, but, ok, I will go along with regulations) or you could trip over the sheet and get hit by a bus or fall off a cliff (again, I don’t know of anyone who ever experienced these, but I will defer to the experts.)
Who’s Under There?
Costumes were so much simpler in the past. (Okay, so maybe they sucked, but we didn’t know that until now.) Either you had a homemade costume (my favorite kind) or you had one that was invented by the Ben Cooper Company (a basic mask that made you sweat and combined with the condensation of your breath to drench you thoroughly, and flimsy jumpsuit that you hopefully put on over your other clothes because they tore as soon as you walked and exposed whatever was underneath.) Grab a bag or a sack and you were good to go.
Not anymore. Now it is necessary to go to a costume store and be professionally costumed with an appropriate theme that will keep your child from experiencing holiday ridicule. For girls from ages 3 and up, this means being sexualized in your outfit. Sexy nurse, sexy police officer, and sexy witch are the most common, but just about anything will do as long as the word “sexy” comes first. Combine this with the lust for the macabre, and can sexy cadaver be far off? The message this sends to girls is that “it doesn’t matter what you actually do or achieve as long as you are sexy.”
Boys are not immune to this either. Boys’ costumes are usually glandular-intense super heroes with muscles rippling off muscles, or weaponized fighters at the ready to attack. This sends the message to boys that you must seek power over emotion, unless that emotion is anger or aggression, and that you must have the physique of a body-builder to succeed. Later in life, this will propel them into the weight room and to seek steroids as an end to this means.
Good bye innocence.
But since I do not want to end this holiday essay on the negative, I must look back to a more innocent time and talk about my favorite Halloween costume of all-time.
I was around 10 years old and had just moved into a new neighborhood. It was a difficult time of switching schools and trying to make friends. We had no money for costumes, of course, so my mother put on her thinking cap and came up with a brainstorm. She took my father’s old Ike jacket from World War II (see photo) and she sewed up the sides, taking it in a bit to make it fit me.
It was so simple, yet brilliant. Not that it mattered to me, as I just wanted to make friends, but I was the envy of all the other boys. Can you imagine? I was wearing an actual jacket that a real World War II soldier had worn!
I could feel the essence of my father envelop me, making me stand up strong and proud, keeping me safe and feeling confident as I strode from door to door and gathered my treats from people, some asking me about the jacket, and me proudly stating “This is my dad’s – from World War II.” I shall never for get that day. It was pure and personal, meaningful, yet so simple.
And that is why today I ask this question: what was your favorite Halloween costume that you ever wore? I would like to know.
Don’t eat too much candy!