Friday, October 29, 2010

Take Back Halloween Night

First off, sorry everyone for not posting lately. I can going to try to post on a weekly basis from here on in.

I might still do my annual list of Halloween movie recommendations but first I wanted to discuss something that’s been nagging at me. Some of my posts are a bit tongue in cheek but this one’s meant to be a bit more serious.

As more and more real life dangers have been emerging during Halloween, people have become less and less willing to celebrate Halloween in the traditional matter. Instead kids get all their treats, if at all, in a few safe places. I appreciate people’s concerns and acknowledge the danger but I see a real problem with this.

To illustrate the problem I must bring up the elephant in the room. We’re all going to die someday. No exception. If there’s an afterlife, it might not be the complete end, but existence as we currently know it is going to end at some point. Dark and depressing? Absolutely. That’s why at a young age we need to learn to laugh at death, to find ways of laughing at our own mortality, to give us the courage we need to face that. I believe that dressing up as monsters and going door to door candy hunting is a way of teaching kids to laugh at death in a way that they can process, in a way that’s not too distressing for them. A ways of giving kids a sense of danger but also allowing them to have fun and to, well, be kids.

At the same time though, I realize that there are some dangers, some sick people who target kids. Here are some suggestions:

The first is a no-brainer: walk with your children. It’s safer for them and a fun way to bond with them. Consider further strength in numbers. Arrange for multiple parents with kids to walk together. The really dangerous people go after easy targets. A small group is not an easy target. Carry a flashlight and a whistle, or find some similar means of calling attention to yourself if need be.

If your concern is aimed towards the houses you’re visiting, remember what your parents did. If one of the treats is a candied apple, open it up before letting your child eat it. Another thought: make a note between houses of what you got from each place. Focus on residential areas where you know some of the people. Getting to know your neighbours is usually not a bad idea any time of the year.

Is there any way to be 100% safe during Halloween? Nope. But then you could decide to keep your kids home during Halloween only for some household accident to occur. No one’s ever completely safe, and again, that’s why Halloween in its traditional format (and I’m talking recent traditions here) is so valuable. Let the kids have fun. Let them learn that you gain power from laughing at the spooky stuff. Place it safe, place it smart, but take back Halloween from the real life scary monsters. Because if you can’t laugh at monsters, the monsters win.

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