a vestige of thought...
Monday, October 31, 2005
Halloween is made up of two basic parts: the dressing-up-as-something-you-are-not part and the going-door-to-door-getting-candy part. The dressing up part is not all bad. Costumes are fun to both create and wear. I am told that there was a time (though I don't remember it) when nearly all costumes were homemade. Sadly, costumes, like most everything else in our society, are becoming more and more commercialized. School costume parties (that I do remember) are increasingly comparative and competitive. 'Who has the best costume?' may once have referred to creativity, but now seems to refer mostly to price. Suzie and Jenny may both dress up as black cats, but Suzie, with a storebought black hooded suit, complete with connected tail and ears, will be infinitely cooler than Jenny, who is wearing a black sweater and sweatpants of not-quite-matching shades of black with a tail pinned on and felt ears on a headband. I remember finding girls crying in the bathroom after my fourth grade class's Halloween party because someone had made fun of their (very nice, I thought) homemade costumes. Perhaps Halloween is not at fault for such situations, but it certainly doesn't help.
I have to admit that I always enjoyed the candy-collecting part of Halloween, but I find it saddening to hear many children, upon leaving houses, lamenting "that's all I get?" after being handed a few Tootsie Rolls or a Dum-Dum. On Halloween, children enter the mindset that they are entitled be given. For some reason, they become deserving of all the finest chocolates and chewy Sprees in the land. The traditional "Trick-or-Treat" reflects this attitude: give me a treat, or I'll do something unpleasant to you. Again, I do not believe that Halloween is at fault for these problems. However, it may be more of a hinderance than a help in the process of raising youngsters into people of integrity. In a world where humans are born inherently selfish, we do not need to spend time encouraging a self-serving bias.
That said, have a good time tonight, whatever you may be doing. :)
Look, even Mr. Potato Head is dressing up.