October 2006

Halloween Isn’t for Sissies

Author: P. Venus

Do you remember the feeling you had when you found out that there wasn’t really a Santa Claus? Christmas was still a blast as a kid, but it just lost a little of its magic. That’s kind of the feeling that I have anymore about Halloween. I think I used to love it even more than Christmas. But now it has lost its luster.

I was a shy, lanky kid who never quite felt comfortable in my own skin. The fact that once a year I could disguise myself as anyone other than myself made me giddy. Top that off with a night of running around the neighborhood grabbing up free candy, and you would have thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Eventually I grew up and became much too big to do trick-or-treating. But I didn’t mind, because I found an even bigger thrill…scaring the “boo” out of the little beggars while handing out candy. My sister and I “did it up large”, turning our enclosed front porch into a mini haunted house. We never went so far as to drag out chain saws. It was far simpler to just jump out of the shadows and scream. Then we would cramp over with laughter as they squealed and ran away. Ahh… those were the days.

When I moved to Hilton Head Island, I arrived in October and couldn’t wait for Halloween. I knew there were plenty of kids in my neighborhood so I loaded up on the candy, unpacked my Halloween decorations, and waited. Not one kid came. I felt like I got stood up on prom night. Where had I gone wrong?

I found out later from a friend that parents now take their kids to shopping malls for trick-or-treating. What kind of fun is that? You can’t kick up the leaves in the mall. Who is going to scare you there? The girl doing ear piercing? How was I supposed to get my Halloween fix? Should I hide in the bushes outside of the mall and hope I don’t get arrested while I wait to jump out and shout “boo” at the next Britney Spears look-a-like that trots in?

Have we gone just a little bit too far when it comes to protecting our children? I’m not saying that you should just turn your kid loose so he can egg somebody’s house (hey, you know you did it). But at least give him a chance to experience some “safe” scares every once in a while. Can you honestly say you are scarred for life because you watched “The Exorcist” when you were 10 years old? There’s something good to be said about the way your heart races when you go through a haunted house, trying to anticipate what will fly at you next, and then laughing at yourself and your friends about how scared you were.

So take a night off on Halloween and do some real trick-or-treating. If your neighborhood doesn’t do it, then for goodness sake, find one that does. You’ll be giving your kid some happy memories that he can look forward to sharing with his child one day. And you’ll be giving me another chance to make another kid squeal with fear. Oh how I miss doing that!

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