Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween

Ah, Halloween! That special time of year when monsters and ballerinas set aside their differences to walk hand in hand around the neighborhood in search of coma-inducing, sugary treats.

I was going to write a long, well-formed essay on the strangeness of this fall ritual that seems to have taken on a life of it own. For instance, why is it called a holiday? Isn't that supposed to mean holy day? Perhaps in the days of the ancient Celts, Halloween's ancestor feast day was considered holy. But I find it hard to put the concept of holy and begging for candy in hob goblin clothing in the same sentence. Particularly because I've got a bit of a sugar headache from eating a good portion of leftover candy, I think an essay is out of the question. I'll just write a few bullets and let it go with that.
  • I don't think I've ever been a real fan of Halloween, either as a kid, or as an adult. I think one has to be really secure in one's own skin before she can throw herself into becoming someone/thing else even for one night. Self assurance has never been one of my strong suits.

  • I don't recall for sure but I figure I did find some childlike delight in donning the plastic costume and matching mask that we bought from Woolworth's; being a black plastic cat was less frightening to my chicken little persona than being than being a white plastic ghost. But let's face it, what used to pass as costumes were not the over-the-top disguises that kids are privileged to wear today. Modern Halloween outfits vary from Disney-esque princesses to cartoon characters to movie boogie men. I think I can say with relative assurance, however, that none of the outfits are made of sheet plastic that closely resemble decorated garbage bags. Costumes have come a long way in 50 years. Well, really, what hasn't? [Photo R: I'm the cat in the 2nd row, 2nd from the end.]

  • Like other contemporary merchandising extravaganzas, Halloween has taken on a money guzzling life of its own. Gone are the days when little kids could enjoy a relatively mild day of dress-up and popcorn balls. Today's child is hit with a marketing blitz of mammoth proportions. Candy, costumes, pumpkins, neon colored lightsticks, yard decorations, spooky-screeching cd's. You name it, and it's right there on the shelf next to the pre-lit Christmas trees.
  • I heard on tonight's news that a dentist was offering to buy back the local children's left-over candy (Read: Raisinnetts and Smartees). For a dollar a pound, kids will get rid of the candy they won't eat and can't trade to their younger siblings. On top of that the dentist is throwing in a super dooper toothbrush with lights that flash for two minutes at a time. Not all that coincidentally, two minutes happens to be the amount of time that is required to get that piece of Bit-o-Honey unstuck from your back molars. Interestingly, after the this enterprising dentist buys all this candy, he is then going to package it up and send it to the soldiers in Iraq. Call me a pessimist, but the last time I looked, Iraq was in the part of the world that is considered by many to be a desert. It's hot. It's sandy. It is NOT the kind of place where chocolate delights like Snickers and Three Muskateers bars are going to keep very well. I see a big chocolatty mess happening. And, I could be wrong, but do we really want to add rotten teeth to the list of infirmities those young men and women are coming home with? Maybe the dentist is going to send some of those toothbrushes along with the candy.

  • Speaking of candy. If you haven't already read the nutritional (ha!) label on your favorite Halloween treat, STOP! I made the mistake of doing this after devouring the second bag of candy corn that was brought into the house. How can something that consists mainly of: sugar, and corn syrup, and contains less than 2% of the following: cocoa, salt, honey, confectioner’s glaze, partially hydrogenated cottonseed, palm kernel, and/or soybean oil (adds a dietarily insignificnt amount of fat) artificial flavor, gelatin, dextrose, soy bean lecithin, titanium dioxide color, yellow 6, yellow 6 Lake, red 40 lake, red 3, yellow 5, blue 1, and blue 2 lake taste so good? According to the package, Brach's has been selling autumn mix and making fall more fun for over 50 years. But here's the best part, America’s #1 Autumn Mix, is made with real honey! That's got to mean it's good for you!

Well, there you have it, my take on Halloween. I've got to close this post and get to bed. I'm hoping that my night's sleep will be filled with visions of things to write about for the next month, instead of the blood dripping scary guy that came to my door tonight. Tomorrow, November 1st, marks the beginning of Nablopomo (National Blog Posting Month) and I'm already feeling a little performance anxiety.

I think I'll have one more little handful of candy corn and call it a night,

Merry ME

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