The Town that Forgot Halloween

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There once was a town at Halloween,
Where no spooks or scares could be heard … or seen.
The streets were all dark and the lights were all dim,
There was no joy, or revelry, or laughter within.
The skies were all dark and the streets were forsaken,
There were no pumpkins, no fun, and no treats to be taken.

The stores were filled with holiday snacks,
Most too expensive, stuffed in giant packs.
No costumes or parties were planned anywhere,
Except for one night for adults only parties (kids, beware!).
What once had been, and may never yet be,
Was the lost joy and lost treasure of the great Halloween!

Last year I wrote in my article (here) about the fact that Halloween may be one of the most important, if not the most important, world-wide cultural phenomena (Christmas not withstanding). It was not an arbitrary or hapless thought then – and it certainly isn’t one now. For people who already get it, they know about the thrill, the joy, and the sheer pleasure of doing a completely selfless, time-involved, and sometimes costly act of fun for themselves, their family, for friends, and best of all, for complete strangers. For those who don’t, or those folks who have been lead away from the true thrills of the Holiday – I present to you a town … a small place in the Pacific Northwest – for your consideration.

As I drove through the streets, hoping to share with family the fun decorations of our neighbors (same as we do at Christmas), hoping to laugh, be inspired by, and be motivated by the amazing displays of creativity and entertainment that can only come with Halloween – something terrible happened.

The streets were dark.

Fall leaves blow past an empty home seen in a well kept neighborhood in Detroit

Halloween was nowhere to be seen. There were one or two homes, out of about 15 neighborhoods we drove through, that had a pumpkin, or some spiderweb up – but that was it. What was meant to be a night of family togetherness, inspiration, and fun – turned into a dismal awakening of how dead people had become (so much so that we transcended from the fear that we somehow missed October to the possibility we were stuck in the Twilight Zone to the ultimate conclusion: zombies!!). Perhaps some were saving money and couldn’t afford too many decorations with stores up-charging Halloween into oblivion. Maybe others just got tired of the lack of trick-or-treat’ers and those people with whom they could bring joy. Maybe the condescending political manifestation that weighed on people like a heavy, unpleasant fog had broken too many spirits.

Whatever it was – I don’t know.

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One thing I could be sure of though – there was no excuse that anyone could give me for a failure to celebrate a world-wide event like Halloween. For one night out of the year – for one single day – a celebration not born of Capitalism (albeit definitely invaded), filled with the chance to come together as a group, or shine as an individual – we all have the chance to make a small, tiny difference in our otherwise ho-hum lives. Remember, summer time used to be for the farmers, and so a “fall” festival had a very important place in communities. People came together to share their goodies with one another, talk face-to-face (having been separated by a dedication to work … not cell phones), and strengthen themselves as families, friends, neighbors – and strangers. The thrills of legends like Sleepy Hollow filled our minds. Dressing up and pretending to be something more than what we are gave us inspiration and motivated dreams of the future and what could be. Those folks who decorated , with spooky decorations and scary thrills invited both children and adults to overcome their fears for one night and be immediately rewarded with celebration and laughter!! (And MUSIC!)

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Can you think of a better opportunity than that???!!!

Sure, Christmas has its place. “Be good … or you’re gettin’ coal” (or, in this case, empty threats that lead to unrelenting, bad-mannered kids screaming in the stores!). And, I’ll save the commercialism dissertation for this December because … DANG! Easter – most people forget its spiritual nature, and otherwise, nobody ‘decorates’ or celebrates in this really, time-intensive manner that requires heart and soul (let’s not get into the March Easter disaster of 2016!!!). Valentine’s Day is just another victim of the harbingers of commercialism that has sought to ruin cultural values and life in America. For “most” of you lucky enough to take vacations – you know the realities of that adventure. It’s nothing but high cost, cheap entertainment, and more exhaustion that only serves the purpose of giving you a reason to WANT to go back to work!

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So, what is Halloween?

Well, there certainly are a large number of definitions on-line, in books (if you remember what those are …), and passed down through family stories that, whether right or wrong, are so ingrained into peoples’ minds they can’t let it go. But, what about the rest of the world?

Halloween is a time to celebrate what you’ve worked so hard to accomplish! Think about where you live … good or bad … it’s where you are. It’s ‘home.’ Every neighborhood looks the same. Every home is the same. Everything looks like itself and there is no real individuality anymore. The options for decorating at Halloween (outside of overpriced stores) is literally endless! There is no finite stop to the things that terrorize people! I can guarantee that even if I were to open my garage – untouched in 6 years except to pile more garbage in there – that alone is terrifying!! (And, yeah, you can imagine the mess of 4 households crammed into one space and left for six years, terrorized by mice, black widows, and other creepy things … wow … a self-made terror-cave! … Although … not really a ‘Halloween’ theme!). But, setting “real-life”/”everyday” scares aside – from simple pumpkins (and folks – the way people carve pumpkins today … WOW! Look it up – it’s worth it!), to candles, to skeletons in coffins – Halloween is the one time when really, no two houses may look alike!

Yes, the Holiday has been ruined by the media focusing on stories of some ass-jerk monkey (forgive the language – but that’s the most accurate description that’s still not rated X), putting something bad in candy. And, stores have done a wonderful job of trying to kill Halloween – and I DO MEAN INTENTIONALLY TRYING!! Pumpkins for $6.00 a piece at Albertson’s? WHAT IN THE HOLY HECK IS GOING ON? As far as I can tell, pumpkins are not made of gold … and weighing in and only a few pounds it’s  stillnot as expensive as gold … but it might as well be! Farmers typically plant thousands of pumpkins for only pennies and can usually turn a pretty good profit. $6 DOLLARS? Thank you, Albertson’s. You’ve reminded us about the corporate scheming that is screwing America (oh … and yes, they did. They bought Safeway (monopolizing the West coast and beyond), sold off a few hundred stores in Oregon to Hagan’s to meet the FTC demands against monopolies and their potential for abuse, then Hagan’s declared ‘bankruptcy’ claiming they couldn’t afford it even though it had been vetted for 3 – 4 years first, then Hagan’s threatened to sue Albertson’s, which turned out to be a farce, and then magically gave back a bunch of stores to Albertson’s and while keeping a few dozen stores for free! And, the moral of the story is: Albertson’s cheated the FTC rules, got their cake and ate it, too (instantly raising their now monopolized store prices), and Hagan’s, as the patsy, got a kickback! The FTC? Nowhere to be seen in all this. The people? What are they going to say? When Hagan’s took over, they jacked the prices even higher so that people would be grateful when it went back to Albertson’s and if they loose it now – there would be nowhere to shop in the entire, Pacific Northwest! Isn’t commercialism and greed, awesome? Sometimes … karma just isn’t enough…).

Christianity has certainly done a number on Halloween, too. Odd that the Christian faiths don’t make an outrageous point of celebrating All Saint’s Day (probably out of some demented thought that it would remind people about Halloween), but they go out of their way to ban the Holiday! I present to you the following evidence:

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Yes – the “Say No To Halloween” crowd, has once again utilized the awesome deception of taking Scripture out of context to fit their personal agenda, and is blasting it to their children, neighbors, and beyond (something that is typically reserved for only the most ignorant of Christians, tyrannical leaders and brainwashing … hmmm…). Last I checked … and I am somewhat thoroughly versed on the matter … Halloween, the Day of the Dead, and the celebration of the harvest festival were not only “not” in the Bible … they weren’t referenced or inferred (except to say that they really did have overtly meticulous rituals for the deceased … as seen in the preparation of the Savior’s body). These are the same, awesome folks who want to ban Harry Potter, forbid celebrations of birthdays and have really captured the true meaning of not living life the way God intended, by banning fun. I’m not talking about deviant or dark or even sinister fun. I’m talking about spooky, creative, decorative houses, exercising the Constitutional right to Free Speech and the moral justice of inviting goodness to all who pass by with tricks and treats of an awesome nature (which, by the way, is also in the Bible, just look for it under the “Good Samaritan” parable).

It is truly a twisted mind that looks for evil and then identifies it under an umbrella and broadly applies it to all (vs. identifying it and finding alternate paths). In fact, that’s sort of what the Pharaoh did with the Jews. And, while I could go on – to these folks – these so-called “Christians,” all I can say is – they seriously need a check on their morals and values. Everything – even Christianity – can be tainted into something evil (Salem Witch Trials?). It takes a truly strong Christian to find the good in all things, to celebrate change, growth, imagination, and spirit – and to help lead a community to celebrate together in fun and joy (and, if you really want to try and contain Halloween … at least check out the LDS Trunk ‘r Treat and see what they do – celebrating the season to bring laughter to the children, including taking the time to make their own, safe treats!!). I actually found the question online: “Can I celebrate Halloween if I’m a Christian?” I’ll leave that for you to punch into Google – and you’ll see the answers encouraging it – and those discouraging it. It’s a sad state of affairs … Evil exists year ’round. The ‘dark’ things you hear about on Halloween are only in the media because it’s Halloween and brings ratings – those things go on everyday of the year … really … you’d have to be awfully narrow minded not to see it – or if you don’t believe it – look it up for yourself …

But, I digress …

Let the stores sell their pumpkins for too much money. Go to the farmers direct! Let the Walmart’s and other giants sell overpriced, air-filled, cheap-o garbage for far too much money. If you really want it, wait until after Halloween or use Amazon! And, as for the Spirit stores at Halloween? Please … they epitomize the season. Low-lying fog machines for $80 and up? Please. There are not only DIY (Do-It-Yo’self) options galore, but dry ice is pretty cheap if you know where to look. Besides, they make fog ‘misters‘ now that you can get for cheap. HEY! I know! Stuff costs money. It’s YOUR place! You live there. Don’t you deserve to ‘do it up’? Sure, if the neighborhood residential living code compliance guys say no Halloween … well … I’m not going to tell you what to do … but I think you can come up with some pretty good solutions. After all, if people can be forced to take down crosses and nativity scenes or be permitted to put up international symbols that relate to terrorist activities all in the name of religion … well … you be creative!

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As for the rest of Halloween … a poorly described DIY project online, three weekends of work, mess, ruined gloves, $100 too much spent, and a learning curve that would be cheaper and better next time – and yet, still the family has had an awesome Halloween experience. The time spent building and working together … the frustration and tears … ending in the joy and thrill of such accomplishments … NO amount of money could buy. No vacation – no ‘thing’ – and no other event (beyond spiritual ones), could be so instrumental in bringing people together (in progress photos):

And, after seeing the lengths some folks go to in other places, all I can think is that there is some hope for our world. There is some chance. From old, free, wooden pallets with over a 1000 uses to some well-placed, cheap decorations … Halloween can actually be pretty cool, even if done on a small scale (more in-progress photos)

Heck – I even found the entire Vincent Price monologue, read out by Vincent Price, from the old Michael Jackson Thriller, and you know what … it’s pretty cool! So, to those of you, the boys and the ghouls, the witches and wizards, and all the rest .. with a heart to dream, a mind to expand the universe, and the soul for getting down …

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But, one house stood alone,
Apart from the rest.
Its decorations were simple,
Yet, simply the best.
The props were placed with love and with care,
For laughter, for terror, and for a good scare!

But, when Halloween came, no one showed at the door,
No kids, no adults, no ravens, evermore…
For Halloween’s spirit was running quite dry,
Still, this family, gave it their best … one last try …
And in that moment, when all did seem lost –

They discovered the true meaning of Halloween –

For they were together,
For family,
For friends,
For strangers, and all…
To give and to share the things that they had,

Their creativity, their candy, their real treasures galore.
And, so, they finally said–

“Fine, forget the rest, let’s do it once more!”

It’s said that All Hallow’s Eve is one of the nights when the veil between the worlds is thin – and whether you believe in such things or not, those roaming spirits probably believe in you, or at least acknowledge your existence, considering that it used to be their own. Even the air feels different on Halloween, autumn-crisp and bright.

If human beings had genuine courage, they’d wear their costumes every day of the year, not just on Halloween.”

The worst thing about Halloween is, of course, candy corn. It’s unbelievable to me. Candy corn is the only candy in the history of America that’s never been advertised. And, there’s a reason. All of the candy corn that was ever made was made in 1911. And, so, since nobody eats that stuff, every year there’s a ton of it left over.

All my life, I have been a celebrant of Halloween. For me, it is the most important day of the year, the turning point in the old pagan calendar.

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