Don’t judge me, but I decided the Goofs don’t do Halloween. I decided it was a pagan holiday and that while we would participate appropriately in Christian holidays (say by going to Christmas parties when invited) we would not be Trick or Treating. Besides, Jews already have a holiday for dressing up in costumes and eating candy, it’s called Purim. It is utterly un-supernatural, no visions no thing – just a plan to mass murder the Jewish people and hence more terrifying then any stupid ghost yelling “Boo!”
I know that lots of Jews (including most of the little Goofs’ friends) do Halloween but we don’t. Not that I am some fire and brimstone type, I made watching the It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown a tradition so that the little Goofs would have a working knowledge of the culture in which they live.
But this year we had a big change. We decided to hand out candy. I hated being one of the mean “dark” houses – especially when someone would make a mistake and knock. Then we’d end up sending some little kid in a dinosaur costume wandering off, forlorn into the night. So we handed out candy, there were exactly three bands of children who came by. On the plus side, this means lots of leftover candy.
But it was also a little sad. I remember streets full of kids in costumes when I was growing up – now it is mere handfuls.
Maybe some of this was demographics, there are just less kids. But there is also fear. In the fall of 1982 some lunatic put cyanide in Tylenol bottles, killing seven people. Something in our communal trust broke and Trick-or-Treating (and lots of other stuff) just wasn’t the same. MamaGoof, who grew up in LA remembers even before that the stories of needles and razors planted in candy. We “reminisced” about this over dinner. GoofGirl just didn’t get it, “Why would someone do that?”
We reassured her that packaging has changed so this won’t happen and she shouldn’t worry (although she probably will anyway!) But that didn’t answer her question, “Why? Why would anyone want to hurt children?”
“Remember the bullies in Stand by Me? Well it’s the same thing. Maybe people were always mean to them so they are mean to the world. Maybe there is something very wrong in their mind. Maybe they are just bad people.” I explained, because really it is unfathomable.
Maybe there is something to Halloween. Supernatural terror, the ghouls and ghosts don’t need any explanation they just are – best of all they aren’t real. A relief from the real horrors maybe they should be savored.