Worried about a recession that seems to be going on and on? Aggravate by a presidential election that seems equally as endless?
Forget it. We’ve got real troubles this month. It’s October, which means it’s time for Halloween and the annual: “Will we or won’t we let the kids go trick or treating” debate.
For the next three weeks, the forces of good and good will be arguing with each other in newspapers and on television, each making spiffy presentations for their sides.
The anti-trick or treat group makes any number of valid points: It’s not safe, it’s not safe, and it’s not safe. The pro-trick or treat people have a number of equally good arguments – tradition, tradition and tradition.
The answer, of course, can be found somewhere in between (where it can also be found on any number of important issues, a fact that seems lost on too many people these days).
It is possible, if you’re willing to be flexible, to let your kids have their candy and costumes, and for you to rest easy that some maniac won’t rip them limb from limb.
This is the maniac, for the uninitiated, that the anti-trick or treat group is convinced lurks behind every corner and in every dark alley.
For instance, Gigi Woodruff, executive director of the East Dallas YMCA doesn’t care for the holiday at all. She doesn’t like the emphasis on candy (won’t let her child have any, in fact) or the holiday’s pre-occupation with demons, devils, goblins and ghouls.
Yet she is also realistic enough to know that her 3-year-old daughter lives in a society where Halloween plays a role.
“If she is going to be exposed to it,” Woodruff says, “we need to emphasize the other things, like its religious beginnings as All Hallows Eve. Did you know that in Europe, people put candles in potatoes since they didn’t have pumpkins?
There are any number of similar sensible solutions, and none of them involves dumping the kids at the nearest mall’s Halloween party.
Your kids will spend enough time in a place with stores later in life; spare them now. Try your church or school or youth groups. The East Dallas Y isn’t scheduling Halloween festivities, but the White Rock Y is. (The overnight program is scheduled Oct. 30; call 328-4621 for information.)
Better yet, do Halloween with your kid. Adults too often forget how important it is for their children to spend time with them in roles other than the usual parent-kid, “Damn it, clean your room” gig. Therapists call this spending quality time with them; I prefer to think of it as giving the kid a memory that doesn’t involve a vision of you asleep in front of the television set.
Best yet, you don’t have to go trick-or-treating with the kid to spend this time with him. Truth to tell, this will only embarrass him or her.
I know I would have melted out of my wolf man costume if either of my parents had ever accompanied me. I thought I was being a sissy just for carrying the flashlight they annually forced on me.
Rather, the answer is simple. Throw a Halloween party, centered around trick or treating in the neighborhood. Take turns with you neighbors, so that the party is at someone else’s house every year.
You can control the time. You can control the candy. You can, in fact, do whatever you want to do. And this will allow us to get on with worrying about the really important things in life – like if it’s right that I’m already getting mail-order Christmas catalogs.