Friday, November 1, 2013

My First Halloween

With this being the first year out of the family home, it has also been the first year that I participated in Halloween festivities in any meaningful way. Some fundamentalist families get all superstitious about Halloween, declare that it's evil, and refuse to participate in it, while others try to "Christianize" it, and use it as an excuse to proselytize.

My mom was always in the first group, while some in the church I am undercover in, and have been a part of since I was about 11-12 years old, decided to go with the second option (others just celebrated it away from the church without worrying about it one way or another).
I remember years of spending Halloween as a child and teen at home, with the lights out in the house, a movie playing in the VCR or DVD player (that had absolutely nothing to do with Halloween or horror movies in any way, of course), eating popcorn with mom and dad, while my dad had a bolt with a washer tightly fastened to it in the front gate to keep it from opening, in case some kids didn’t get the idea that there was no candy here (despite the fact that the doors were closed, and lights off).
Funny story about that, almost every year there would be at least one kid, usually a boy around 10-12 years old, (with no apparent mental disabilities), who would come up to the gate, find the bolt keeping it from opening, and then walk past our vehicles in the driveway, lean over the porch railing, and knock on the door (the door was about 3 feet from the driveway, small property).

Naturally, one of us would open the door, thinking that if someone is going through that much hassle to knock on our door, it must be something important, perhaps a neighbor telling us that someone tried to break into one our cars, but no, it would be that kid that just couldn’t take a hint. My dad would just tell them there was no candy here, and we would shake our heads and laugh about it.

My mom’s superstition and fear about Halloween used to scare me too as a child, but by the time I was early to mid teens, I would never say it out loud, but though Halloween wasn’t something I really wanted to take part in, I felt it was something harmless for the most part. Her delusional ranting sounded to me like somebody ranting about how the government implanted a chip in their brain to read their thoughts……

Several years ago, when my mom and dad happened to be out of state, I had spent some time with the people I refer to as “Sam and Rose” in the Undercover Agnostic series. (read more about the two of them here, here and here), participating with the church in the rather recent tradition among churches and community organizations known as “trunk or treat”, where people bring their vehicles to a parking lot, full of candy, and children go around with their families to each vehicle to get the candy.
That was the first time I have done anything Halloween related, but this year is the first time I have done anything for Halloween that didn’t involve trying to proselytize in the process (the event with the church wasn’t very “in your face” about it, they would just quietly slip in the bags of candy a small pamphlet talking about the church, it’s events and service and encouraging people to come in that Sunday).
Strangely enough, I probably wouldn’t have done anything for Halloween this year had it not been for my mom encouraging me to do so. I came home Thursday, and I found a note talking about the disaster that trying to keep Happy Horse in the yard was. It would be a massive understatement to say that our plans to keep him in the back yard to run, and use the new enclosed porch as his dog house was a failure.
On Wednesday, he clawed the door frame, trying to get in the back door while I was at work, and on Thursday, he smashed through a section of a wooden privacy fence (seriously, I didn’t know that was possible), and went around the front door, in a panic over being left alone, and clawed up the screen on the front screen door. A neighbor called mom to tell her he was on the loose. He is apparently more clingy and sensitive of a dog than we first thought, he gets extremely scared when left alone (which I know is typical for Labs).
Anyway, with the note explaining what had happened, was a large bowl of candy. There are quite a few children in my neighborhood (probably about a dozen children or more per block), and though I haven’t heard of it happening in recent years in our town, she was worried that kids were still in the habit of tossing eggs at houses that didn’t have candy (or worse), and said it would be a good idea to hand it out this year.
Noting her previous hatred of Halloween, this had been surprising, but I went ahead with it anyway. I left the screen door open, and waited to the children to show up with their families. Surprisingly, not many showed up. There was only about 8 groups that came around, most of them, other than two boys that were probably about 11 years old and a young boy with his older sister, had their family with them, either standing behind them at the porch, or watching from the side walk.
I saw groups of children, and families walking past the house, and it looked like many of them felt it was safer (or better chances of getting more candy), to go to some churches in the area that were having the “trunk or treat” events. Happy Horse would bark before I would hear the children arrive and say “trick or treat”, and I would put down the book I was reading (Mockingjay, the last book in the Hunger Games series, I had always wanted to read that series, and I’m just now getting around to it), and get the candy.
Most kids didn’t seem scared of Happy Horse, but were wary of petting him after he would push past me to get onto the porch to wag his tail and greet them. One woman that came with her daughter, who was about 5 years old, started petting him, and when they went to leave, he started following them down the steps, I called for him, and said he couldn’t go home with them, and he ran back in the house, which the mother thought was quite funny.
In all, even though there wasn’t much activity, it was nice to finally have a small part in observing Halloween, without feeling the need to try to promote a church or save souls, or no superstitious people around to declare how “evil” it is. It was a relief to feel somewhat normal for a change.


  1. While nobody ever comes to our door on Halloween, we did go look at a street of classic homes that has a big decorating contest every year and there were a couple of houses that wanted nothing to do with it. They had caution tape all over their gates, all across their driveways, one place had the entire front of their house papered in caution tape for those who couldn't get the message and I still saw someone trying to get through their gate. Some people are genuinely clueless.

    1. That's why I put the "Here's Your Sign" picture up when I said that. :) Some people are just plain stupid.

      Are you familiar with Bill Engvall's comedy?

  2. A normal and fun Halloween is good:)

    1. Not many things have been normal for me in my lifetime, so I appreciate the chance to get to participate in certain rituals that I never had the chance to before.

  3. We used to trick or treat when I was little, and then it was all church stuff or nothing as my family got more religious. This year Luke and I took the boys trick or treating and it was his first secular Halloween ever, and my first in over a decade.

    1. Good for you. :) I'm glad that people like us can finally find joy in what used to be considered evil.


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