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Monday, October 25, 2010

the true meaning of halloween

So here we are. 
I know there’s no Superman. I know there’s no Santa Claus. And that’s fine.
But I really wish Linus was real sometimes.
Linus, you know, from Peanuts. Not to be a philosophical smart-ass sidekick, and not to hang around sucking his thumb, but to once in a while come in and say the thing that needs to be said and remind us all what the true meaning of something is. He was good at that, because he did it succinctly and without injecting personal spin on it. When he quoted that Bible passage in A Charlie Brown Christmas, he didn’t paraphrase or add a “Jesus is the Reason For the Season!” or anything like that. He calmly trotted in, did the job, made us think, and then that magnificent Vince Guaraldi music kicked in and we saw commercials for Dolly Madison cakes (now owned by Hostess) and Peter Paul Almond Joy and Mounds bars (now owned by Hershey). 
Halloween seems to be America’s most popular secular holiday, and not just for kids but for adults as well. I’m not sure exactly when that happened, when it got so huge. There appear to be more parties, done bigger and more extravagantly, and nearly as much commerce as the religious December holidays, albeit in a much smaller window of time and without the obligatory cards and gifts... though I did recently see a sizable display of Halloween cards at Hallmark. (Who sends these?)
Even in a line at the Rite Aid the other day, I overheard two businessmen asking each other what they were doing for Halloween the way people ask each other what they’re doing for Thanksgiving or Christmas.  It’s an all-skate now. Everyone plays on Halloween these days. 
And, as always, the importance of something is now directly correlated to the number of people commenting on it online. And right now I’d say that half of the online “articles” (read: blogs disguised as news) are about how slutty all the costumes have gotten, and the other half are about how bad candy is for you and that everyone is going to eventually be diabetic (read: they just don’t want to look at fat people). 
On the latter half: one recent web article about “The Worst Candy For You” mentions mini Reese’s cups and fun sized Snickers bars, another web article about “Better Candy Choices” also mentions mini Reese’s cups and fun sized Snickers bars. Yeah. Seriously. But guess what? The whole “candy is bad for you” thing dates back to the beginning of candy! None of this is news, folks!
Basically, everyone has a say about Halloween, as though we really care about their opinions.
Shut up. I know the meaning of irony.
I recall, as most people my age do, a simpler time, when Halloween smelled like burning leaves. A time when the newspaper would run its single annual Halloween feature. It covered the basics: the importance of carrying a flashlight, wearing something reflective, making sure you could see out of that plastic mask, checking candy for razor blades... you know, the stuff childhood is made of. Halloween was genuinely scary because we were constantly warned about all our suddenly creepy neighbors and the fact that they were likely to mow you down with their cars in the dark, poison or booby trap your candy, or invite you inside to bob for something unsavory. 
Now Halloween is scary because apparently we’re all too slutty and fat. Thanks, Internet.
Oh, Linus. Where are you to tell us the true meaning of Halloween?
Hey! Here he is now!
Lights, please...
And lo, there came upon the weary world a time when under cloak of night a soul could indulge their wild and dark fantasies, wield a sword over their demons and fears, and celebrate a single evening of denying reality, be that reality personal, societal, bodily, or caloric. That no matter what their religion or beliefs, they could dance and frolic under a pagan moon and disguise their true selves and for a fleeting moment forget about the harsh truths of high fructose corn syrup and propriety. 
And that’s what Halloween is all about, Charlie Brown.
See? See?  
Sigh. So...
(Never mind. That was for the Jack Benny fans out there.)
...boy. I don’t even try to disguise a blog as news. But isn’t that refreshing?
Yes indeed. Welcome to me. 

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