Happy Halloween

Can we step back from the real horrors of the world – Ebola and ISIS and refugees with no place to go and a Congress that doesn’t know how to play with others – and take pleasure in the childhood favorite of Halloween?

Halloween is Friday, and if you did a quick survey of people you know, you’re likely to find that it’s the favorite holiday of many of them. Most of us harbor plenty of good memories of trick-or-treating amidst the fall leaves, more candy than we could easily consume, and the fun of dressing up and, even for just a few hours, trying to scare ourselves a little. But never fear – the day is not about horror, it’s about fun.

Carving pumpkins with scary faces, wearing masks, and posing as witches or superheroes or fairy tale characters – it’s the stuff of good childhood memories. A little shiver of being scared and a lot of laughter.

There will always be people who caution that Halloween is too scary for kids. But what’s really scary is not the make-believe, it’s some of the real-life events happening all around us.

Want to talk about scary? Elected officials who operate like 2-year-olds in the sandbox, fighting over their toys – only they’re fighting over the basics of our lives. A disease we have no idea how to cure. Random shootings in places that should be safe all across the country, such as a high school in Washington state last week – and recently, in Canada’s Parliament.

But let’s focus on Halloween. Every year we run into the name changers, who prefer to call the seasonal holiday a Harvest Festival rather than Halloween. In Halloween’s Celtic origins, the day does indeed celebrate the end of the harvest and the start of winter. In the church it is All Hallows Eve – the day before a Christianized feast influenced by Celtic harvest festivals. But there’s nothing wrong with calling the costume-pumpkin-candy night Halloween and still mark the harvest.

It’s like debating whether to call the Civil War by that name or the War Between the States or the War of Northern Aggression. It’s still a war in which many people died and slavery was abolished. We need to cast political correctness aside.

So as the winter holidays near, take a brief but welcome break from the real and indulge in some Halloween magical thinking. Dress up, carve a pumpkin and roast the seeds with your family, stock up on candy for trick-or-treaters and sample some yourself, and as the sky turns dark tomorrow night, celebrate Halloween.

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