Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween for Me

I enjoyed Halloween so much as a kid that I went to some lengths to keep our own kids from enjoying it quite as much as I did. My parents were not opposed to Halloween or squeamish about letting us dress up and "Trick or Treat" the neighborhood. I remember big brown grocery sacks about half full of candy and trading for our favorites with my older brothers, sometimes whether I wanted to or not. Forget the popcorn balls, give me candy bars. As we became teenagers Halloween became more about anonymous pranks and terrorizing other kids and less about candy and cavities. My mother still does not know all about the fireworks and rotten vegetables and cemeteries, and since she does read this blog, I'll move on.

Believe it or not, our church youth group's Halloween party was held in the basement of the local funeral home. No kidding. It was scary just getting out of the car. Bob and Gayle ran the funeral home and also hosted the kids each year for an evening of goodhearted gross-outs, bone-chilling stories, and a moment or two of sheer terror. One year I got to lay in a casket and jump out at kids when they reached out to touch my hand. Great fun until I grabbed too tightly and got punched in the nose. The same party today would be followed by a barrage of hotline calls and lawsuits, but we thought it was great fun. Not so bad, maybe even helpful, to get the devil scared out of you once a year.

Later on, I remember going through a cheap haunted house with a gang of kids from church. The passageway was dark and narrow and at one point this guy in a werewolf suit would jump out and grab us from the side. There was a big farm boy just ahead of me and when the werewolf grabbed him, he responded instinctively, with a hard right hand to the wolf's nose. When I stepped up and looked back, there was the werewolf flat on his back holding his furry face in both paws. Not so scary after all.

Funny how your perspective on Halloween changes when you become a parent. Suddenly, it's all about safety and security and screening my kids candy so that they don't eat too many Snickers or peanut M&Ms. In fact, being a dad at Halloween may be even more fun that being a little kid. We did have some fun and made some memories. As long as our kids look back at their Halloweens and smile and laugh, than I guess we have done our job as parents. So, enjoy your Halloween and save me a Snickers.

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