More disgusting and mutilated than any front yard ornament or trick-or-treat costume I’ll see this year is the philosophy behind this “cultural tradition” we call Halloween. Yes, some of you will hate me when I’m done.
An impressionable sapling of a boy was riding in the car with his mom one day when he made this remark: What I like best about Halloween is that everyone gives away candy and you don’t have to pay any money for it.
Wait. What? I nearly threw my computer across the room. I thought I’d gotten lost in cyberland and was redirected to the democratic party platform or the Affordable Care Act website. Everyone gives… and you don’t have to pay any money for it?!? I’m not very good at math, but even I know that if everyone is giving, someone is paying money for it. Just not him– the recipient of the windfall. But he’s just a kid, right? He can’t be expected to understand that, can he? That is the lie our culture perpetrates on young minds. Thanks for stating it so succinctly, kid.
Of course someone is paying for it; Halloween candy doesn’t grow on trees. But that’s precisely the problem with our culture and is laser-spotlighted by this boy’s dewy remark. We teach, sometimes overtly and sometimes through our traditions that it’s possible there really is a free lunch out there somewhere, that it’s possible for everyone to give and for no one to pay. Isn’t that what we were promised back in 2008 by a certain candygiver, our national SugarDaddy? But I know many people who are paying for the candy now. And they’re not happy about it.
It gets worse. His Mom writes: We all agreed heartily and even as we said so it sunk in further how right he is. Halloween may be the most givingest holiday we have in the U.S.A. Seriously. Candy is handed out to our friends’ children, our neighbors, and complete strangers all the same. And people who give out treats on Halloween expect virtually nothing in return. Maybe just a thank you.
Then the coup de grace (again from Mom): Is there any other cultural tradition that compares when it comes to the spirit of altruism?
If Halloween is “the most givingest holiday we have in the U.S.A.” then we may as well build bunkers in the backyard because we’re doomed. Seriously. If our greatest act of selflessness, of altruism is to give fun-size chocolate bars to kids dressed up in disturbing costumes, we are an empty, vaporous people, valueless, clueless, and without a scaffold of truth on which to hang anything meaningful. This is the Kool-Aid of the default culture; it’s the Common Core Curriculum of our moment-by-moment reality: the idea that there is no ultimate responsibility. Everyone gets and no one gives. And no one is ever wrong either. Don’t miss that. It’s the real pollution we breathe day in and day out. It whispers to us in the sidebar ads, screams in the commercials, and lies seductively all throughout the show. If we don’t step in front of the media tsunami that is our culture, we too will wake up and think the best thing to happen to us is hollow. Hollow. Ween.
The greatest act of altruism happened 2000 years ago. Sorry. I know it’s not popular right now. But it wasn’t then either. It was so unpopular that it just might have killed you to sign on. Now that’s a scary proposition. But it didn’t deter them from signing on in droves.
Other than that, I don’t hate anything about the innocuous holiday known as Halloween. Trick-or-treat until your heart’s content. Dress up. Have fun. Don’t forget to thank the person who did spend quite a bit of dough on your boon. And learn as much as you can about the other altruistic days we celebrate. Please. Oh please do learn so you won’t think Halloween is the pinnacle of goodness on this earth. Oh, and the word– holiday originally meant “holy day,” as in celebration of something holy, like God. Sadly, for many people, it now just denotes a hollow day. There really was someone who didn’t stay dead. And He didn’t look like a mutilated zombie either, which is probably why His story won’t die. Either that– or it’s true.