Halloween is not the same today as it was when I was a kid. I suppose the traditions have changed to reflect changes in society as a whole. When I was a kid the whole Halloween thing started in the beginning of October, and it was in the classroom where it all began. Halloween was an opportunity to teach. We read "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow". We learned about the origins of Halloween and the melding of pagan practices with Christian beliefs. We all brought in costumes and had a Halloween parade, (inevitably one or more clueless kids would forget their costumes, and be forced to resort to the perennial back-up position –a brown paper bag on their heads with holes cut into it for eyes, nose, and mouth.) But best of all, we did Halloween arts and crafts and decorated our classrooms with witches, pumpkins, black cats, and ghosts that we created with crayons, construction paper, scissors, and paste. All of this pre-Halloween activity heightened our anticipation for the actual event and when Halloween finally arrived we were primed and ready.
When I was a kid, store bought costumes were big, mostly cartoon characters, (you know, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Fred Flintstone) but a lot of kids still wore homemade costumes designed by themselves or their parents. The actual collecting of candy was different then too. No parents accompanied us on our ghostly sojourn. The kids were on their own, even at a young age, and traveled through the night in little packs of friends, the older kids looking out for the younger ones. Everyone in the neighborhood knew both you and your parents, so, when you showed up at your neighbor's doors dressed for Halloween, there was a ritual involved before you got your candy. They'd usher you into the house, and you would stand there in their living room while they asked you questions to which you would either nod yes or shake your head no (your voice might give you away)– do I know you? - do you live on this street? – do you have any brothers? etc. The point was to guess who you were under your disguise. Does anyone remember that? It took an inordinate amount of time, and resulted in less candy at the end of the night, but added to the fun, especially if you were wearing a costume you made yourself.
Today things are different. In many places Halloween is banned from schools. We can't have kids cutting out paper ghosts and witches in our schools, one idiot in twenty million might, somehow, be offended. God forbid! Halloween parade? Impossible! Some kid might not have a costume and then he might feel bad about himself because of his pathetic costumelessness. We can't have that! "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"? Forget it! If it was written by a misogynistic, elitist, male oppressor of European descent then it is unbecoming of an educational institution dedicated to the propagation of inclusive diversity in a multicultural society. Candy? Don't even go there! I don't thing Michelle would approve. All right, all right, hold on a second. Give me minute to calm down.
Okay, I'm cool. In the end, Halloween is still great despite the efforts of the petty tyrants who want to ruin everything of value in our country. And like I said at the top – Halloween is now upon us. And this will be Kiley's first Halloween. She won't be too impressed this time around, she's only ten months old, but her parents are going to love it. She's their first child and they get to dress her up, take a million pictures, and show her off to everyone who loves her. It's going to be precious in the extreme. I remember my first child's first Halloween. We dressed her up as a fairy princess. Kiley's going as an elephant.