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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ghost of Halloween Past Leaves Haunting Memories...

Alright, call me a party pooper but I have never been big on Halloween.

No, it's not because of religious reasons, as many people know, Halloween sprouted from the Christian tradition of All Saints and All Souls Days, which the Church continues to celebrate (although it has Celtic influences as well).

The reasons for my indifference to the October 31st celebration are mostly personal.

I think I stopped dressing up for Halloween by the time I was in Junior High (with the exception of several parties as an adult along the way). I never got into the egg tossing and pranks or walking around aimlessly with other kids in hot costumes (I guess you can call me the Ebenezer Scrooge of Halloween).

Part of my lack of enthusiasm may stem from residual psychological effects of having to wear those cheap one-piece paper thin costumes with the plastic masks when I was a kid. They were always too tight for me since I was a "husky" size and would tear somewhere along the route. I don't know if the costumes were too cheap, or the one I wanted was never available in the right size, but, needless to say, I remember ending several Halloween nights walking around with a tear.

I was usually a chunky superhero, who was sweating profusely through the costumes in all the wrong places (which reminds me of the time I wore a Speedo bathing suit to the beach when I was in high school). Talk about childhood traumas! (The ghost of Halloween past was not too kind)

So obviously, whenever October rolls around and jack-o'-lanterns, witches, skeletons and ghosts start popping up around our neighborhood, I don’t exactly jump for joy in anticipation. My kids, however, are a different story.

As the month progresses, my children excitedly start planning their disguises (they actually start several months before) and prompting me to put up decorations in front of our house. I usually procrastinate but eventually my wife and I get around to putting up some pumpkins, spider webs, and, usually, a scarecrow (which was in storage and this year got left out). We put up just enough to satisfy them (which luckily, doesn't take much).

So after months of planning, this year my girls dressed as: a "pink lady" from Grease (not exactly an image I was looking for since they were the ones that made out with the boys and hung out with gang members, but I don't think my 9-yr-old even knows what a "pink lady" is since she has never seen the movie), and a 50's style girl with puffy below-the-knee skirt and a polka dotted leotard and gloves (her planned Jessie from Toy Story costume didn't fit so we went with Plan B; her older sister's dance recital outfit). My son dressed as a very funny-looking Darth Vader without the mask and a light saber bigger than him (He actually looked more like Lord Dark Helmet in Mel Brook's Spaceballs).

On a more serious note, I'll take part in Halloween for the sake of the kids and keeping a tradition as American as baseball and family reunions on Thanksgiving, but I draw the line when it comes to costumes that resemble witches, vampires, zombies or monsters. It may not be a big deal for most parents, but, that is where my faith clashes with the culture. I feel the influences society has on my young children is scary enough. I don't want them to be confused and desensitized on the occult and supernatural by making them fun (I'll get off my soap box now but it's a subject near and dear to me that my kids have reluctantly accepted; so far!).

Unlike last year, where we went to a Halloween night party, while the kids and their friends went to a haunted house at the home of one our daughters' school parents, we had an old fashioned, no frills or thrills, night of neighborhood trick-or-treating (it was Sunday).

Some good friends came over with their daughters and our children went trick-or-treating around the neighborhood for a couple of hours. In fact, the biggest excitement we had was when the dogs of one of the homes the kids went to got loose and the owners went into a frenzy trying to catch the loose dogs in the yard.

By 8:00pm, we were back home, heating leftovers for dinner (my wife refuses to cook on Sundays!) and trying to keep the kids from overeating chocolate bars and candy. It wasn't easy. Our older daughter got upset that she couldn't go to the haunted house with her friends. Meanwhile, our two younger ones got hopped-up on sugar and separately started crying for different reasons (or no reason, I forget which one). There was a lot of drama at the Espinosas.

Despite the commotion, the girls were in bed just a little past their bed time (our younger daughter complaining about a belly ache) and our son stayed up watching the World Series and drinking milk for a little while before falling asleep, which was a perfect time for me to raid their goody bags looking for Snickers, Twix and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (The ghost of Halloween present treated me well).

As I look ahead, I realize that, while All Hallows Eve brings back unfavorable and lackluster memories, the most important memories are those that are yet to come by living it through the eyes of my children.  Therefor, this year's experience gives me some optimism about the ghost of Halloween future (although I am very opposed to any form of fortune telling).

And to think, I have about another ten years of trick-or-treating to look forward to.  I can't wait till next year!

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