And a Pumpkin in a Dead Tree


You may think it’s too early to say, “Bah! Humbug” – but if you do, it’s because you have not been in a retail store lately. Any store. I am actually not talking about the already ubiquitous Christmas displays in every retail cranny across the land … I am talking about Halloween.

Don’t get me wrong; I love Halloween: get free candy, dress up in a costume and pretend you’re someone (or something) else for a few hours. Are you kidding me? Growing up, we had haunted houses, creepy skeletons hanging on the door, and flimsy costumes that gave a general idea of what you were trying to be, without being too realistic. My favorites of all were those plastic masks with ventilation holes so small, you wondered if this would be the year you suffocated while trick-or-treating.

Today, there are trees for Halloween – like Christmas trees, only black and sparkly. They sell ornaments. Does this mean we have to start giving Halloween gifts, too? Haunted houses are a little too realistic these days. And costumes? Don’t get me started. They are far too realistic.

Okay, that last one is more about envy than anything else. Back in the 70s, I felt totally legit in my princess costume that came with a mask and creepy fabric pantsuit that had a ball gown drawn on it. I would probably have spontaneously combusted had I been able to walk into any discount store and get an exact replica of Cinderella’s dress.

I don’t want to be a killjoy; but, even though they make much cooler costumes for kids to wear these days, I feel kind of sorry for them. What happed to trick-or-treat? I would lose my mind all day at school on Halloween in anticipation of collecting a pillowcase full of sugar-laden treats. My mom made hot cider for us. My dad inspected our candy. Oddly, his favorites always seemed to look “too suspicious” for us to eat.

I would never have ‘fessed up to it back then, but I looked forward to the day that I would hand out really awesome candy to trick-or-treaters from my front porch, and tell the kids how cute they look in their flimsy costumes.

We don’ see many trick-or-treaters at my house these days. Last year, not one ghoul or goblin. It was awful having to eat all of the Tootsie Pops I bought to give out. Times have changed, though.

I know there were plenty of bad people and dangers out there when I was Cinderella, but not like there are today. I’m in a newsroom all day. I hear about shootings – often innocent bystanders caught in a crossfire in their own neighborhoods. I never had to worry about that when I was a kid. My friends and I walked fearlessly door-to-door, requesting Halloween goodies from neighbors we actually knew.

Most people think that Thanksgiving begins the holiday season. If we are going to put up pretend “dead” trees and hang glittery pumpkin ornaments and purple lights, the “holidays” may as well start in October. Maybe, if we extend the season, somehow we can expand the spirit that comes along with it. It’s that same good will that fills us all with the desire to make sure kids can just be kids, if only for a little while.


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