I Hate Halloween

I hate Halloween.

There. I said it. I know what you’re thinking: you’re an old stick in the mud. You have a problem with the Druidic origins of it. Or the Satanic implications that some have made of it.

But that’s not it at all.

Well, maybe hate is too strong of a word.

I deeply dislike Halloween and I have since I was young. I never liked going around begging for candy on a threat of being tormented by some foul trick or act of vandalism.

I never liked getting the daylights scared out of me, either. Like when my parents got together with some other parents and pulled off one of those super scary Halloween parties, complete with dipping your hand in simulated corpse innards, etc. I just never liked it.

But more recently, I dislike Halloween for what it has become. If it had stayed a low key event for children with superhero, clown or un-scary Casper-like ghost, or princess costumes, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. If the parties were more harvest festivals, maybe they wouldn’t be so bad, either.

But I go to my door on Halloween and see six-year-old kids with masks that drip blood. I see people that think that cleavers to the head and dismembered bodies are funny.   I know it sounds ridiculous to some people, but I wonder if our acceptance of horror as entertainment has desensitized us to real horror. I think of Christians and other ethnic groups in Iraq and Syria facing real horror every day from a contemptible band of organized terrorists.

I turned on a television show last night, and thought I’d watch a bit of it. But when it appeared that a military leader was encouraging a young boy to behead a captive, I turned it off. It was too real. It was too disturbing, even for me, a middle aged-man.

I dislike Halloween because in so many places around the country, it is seen as an excuse for very bad behavior, including criminal acts. Property is damaged and losses incurred, all in the name of observing a holiday.

When is the national help your neighbor holiday? When is the holiday we observe by doing good deeds for others? When do we undo the damage of Halloween?

Sometimes I think that maybe I would be better off if I just jumped in and did like everyone else. Then maybe I wouldn’t be so disturbed when I hear of children being brutally killed. Or NATO planes intercepting 19 military aircraft in a show of Russian military might. Maybe I wouldn’t feel so bad when disabled people are the butt of foul, demeaning jokes. Maybe I wouldn’t care as much as I seem to care now.

I might be better off. I might sleep better.

But I can’t.

I do let the bad things of the world bother me. The correct response in any case would be to try and see how we can alleviate suffering and reduce the damage. We should try and restore order to a fallen but once very good creation. As a person of faith, I am instructed not to dwell on bad things. Paul told the Philippians how they should think in chapter 4 of his letter to them. He put the emphasis squarely on the positive. He said,

“8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

That is where I would prefer to put my time and interests. I would rather nurture the good than embrace the bad, even a caricature of it. I have enough chaos and mayhem in my life already without celebrating it even one day a year. If we could go back to a more innocent time when bloody corpses and undead vampires and zombies and mass murderers were not the center of the celebration, I would be all for it. But we left that time a while ago. And once the genie is out of the bottle, there is no returning.    

Yes, this makes me sound like an old curmudgeonly stick in the mud. But my feelings on Halloween have not changed since I was young. I didn’t like it then, and don’t like it today. My reasons for not liking it are every bit as valid as yours for liking it. So go ahead. Simulate bodily injury. Drench yourself in ersatz blood. Hide your identity from the evil spirits that will chase you mercilessly. I won’t judge you for joining in if you don’t condemn me for not doing the same.

For me, the best part of Halloween is the realization that it’s less than a month to Thanksgiving. So in that one small respect, maybe Halloween isn’t so bad after all.

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