Monday, October 27, 2008

Move over, Santa

When I ask my mother, who edges in and out of aging dementia these days, what Halloween was like during my childhood, she talks about razors in apples. "I never got one," say I, eternal optimist and lover of the monster holiday. "Did anyone in our neighbhorhood ever get one?" She has to admit no. One scaremonger newspaper story 25 years ago and she's sure it was happening next door.

But all that is to say that times have changed and sadly children do not as often go out in costumed gangs on their own to trick or treat. I loved that evening. We did get to travel door to door -- saw inside neighbors' houses that we always wondered about from the sidewalk -- and got to walk through the darkness by ourselves, no adult watching over us. Thrills beyond treats.

New conventions are developing to assuage the fears of razor blade believers. Here is one from my homeland of Michigan: A monstrous grown-up takes children on his knee, asks them what they want to be for Halloween, and gives them a hug and a bag of candy. Might have possibilities -- although it's a little too mall-defined to satisfy my need for the fear that comes with chaos and the darkness of night.

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