October is great, isn’t it? We have football season in full swing and playoff baseball at its finest. The crisp cool air of fall finally settles in. We commemorate the conquest and genocide of Native Americans. And we paint our faces and dress up in costumes like we’re Juggalos.
But we know better. Football season has been replaced by peaceful protests and protests of protests. It’s 72 degrees in New Jersey in October, so Global Warming isn’t real. Seriously, why are we still celebrating Columbus Day? And Halloween is really just an excuse for me to dress up in a revealing outfit.
While I worry about where the hell this country is headed, I can still sit back and enjoy a refreshing pumpkin spice Coolatta (because I’m a basic bitch). And I can look forward to the one day of the year when my kids can get an infusion of things they just don’t get enough of the other 364 days of the year: Strangers with Candy.
Can I, though? When I was a kid, Halloween was a time where we would venture neighborhoods, even towns, away. Unsupervised. Just some kids in search of king size candy bars instead of candy corn, and we’d travel wherever we needed to to make it happen. I would even be sure to get Hall of Famer Craig Biggio’s autograph every year, which he was kind enough to always do with a smile (and with a king size Hershey bar).
Now we have to keep our eyes peeled for windowless vans and sketchy homeowners. Websites making the rounds allow us to confirm addresses for registered sex offenders. And we have to eat ALL of our kids’ candy to make sure there are no razor blades or chainsaws in them.
Maybe we should have been concerned back in the day about this. Perhaps the advent of Al Gore’s Internet enables us to see more of what’s really happening out there. Or maybe we were just dumb enough to say that it’ll never happen to us in this town. The only thing we ever worried about was what we would do once our pillowcase was filled to the brim.
My kids are still too young, so it doesn’t really impact us yet. A trip to the pumpkin patch yields two kids more interested in the rotting pumpkins with bugs and flies. (But at least it got me this awesome photo for a Smashing Pumpkins album cover.) They couldn’t even appreciate the horror of the movie It. Unsupervised trick-or-treating is a ways away. Hell, they don’t even know how disgusting candy corn is yet. (Side story: They made candy corn out of construction paper in daycare. Their grandma asked them if they like to eat candy corn. We now have one saliva-soaked piece of art and another with a big bite out of it. Next time someone asks me if I want candy corn, I might choose to eat construction paper too.)
What saddens me about what Halloween has become is that a lot of people just don’t get it. Halloween has become a microcosm of our current political and social climate the rest of the year. Lots of arrogant statements about how soft today’s society is. How we did it back in our day. The way things were.
But they’re not that way anymore. They’re just not. There are a lot of nuts out there (maybe there always were). You don’t have to believe everything you read, but there’s enough smoke. Just look around you. We live in a world where minorities don’t feel safe. Where women don’t feel safe. Where kids can’t feel safe, or at least their parents can’t feel their kids are safe. And none of that is “great.” It’s like we’re blaming people for trying to feel safe before they’re a victim, and then even after they’re a victim, we start on victim blaming!
I won’t be surprised if my kids grow up trunk-or-treating instead of trick-or-treating (of course, until the windowless vans with “Free Candy” painted on the side shows up). And we’ll do this to make sure our kids are safe. I can even envision a future where Halloween is at best unrecognizable or even non-existent in America’s near future. I won’t be disappointed about Halloween, but I’d be disappointed that means our judgments and fears are trending society in the wrong direction.
You can say my attitude makes me soft. How we can’t let all the news and fake news dictate how we live our lives. But I don’t want my kids to end up in the next news headline because I didn’t take these concerns seriously enough. So I don’t care what you think about what Halloween has become. The only reason I want to see Halloween go back to the way things were is because that would mean we live in a safer world. We’re not there yet. We are very far from it. Until then, feel free to judge us as we protect our kids on Halloween and every other day of the year.