Jeff Schmucker: Halloween is really all for fun

Jeff Schmucker

As a journalist, I probably don’t take things, including myself, seriously enough.

Let's face it: If we couldn’t look at life and take time to just laugh at how absurd it can be, the other option would be to dwell on how downright scary it is.

Let’s not go there.

But as we enter my favorite season, we also draw closer to one of my favorite holidays. That’s right, it's time for grownups and children alike to hurry and find their scary or laughable costumes. Halloween is fast approaching.

As a child, wearing costumes was always a treat, and to go around collecting candy, well that’s just a huge bonus.

In school, we’d have costume parties, candy and maybe even get to watch movies. And there was always that huge downtown parade all the children walked in. It was like being a celebrity.

If you’re lucky as an adult, there’s still ample opportunity to dress up –– this time leaving the kids at home.

Every year I try and make the most of Halloween, taking as many pictures as I can for the newspaper of children dressing up, having fun, eating candy. That way, when people from the future look at these, they can remember what fun was like before we allowed the kooks to ruin everything.

Yes, folks, every year we hear more and more about individuals and groups wanting to rein in the Halloween fun by restricting schools and even other groups from celebrating the event.

Not to pick on my own faith, but I know my 11-year-old sister’s Catholic school is especially starting to crack down on letting children dress as witches, devils or anything scary.

A few years ago, you heard a lot of stories about school officials being pressured to cancel Halloween celebrations. Reasons ranged from fears that some children’s parents couldn’t afford cool costumes, it took away from classroom time, and, the most absurd, is that the holiday is offensive to real witches or parents thought it was "un-Christian" to have children dressing like devils, demons or other such characters.

Then schools were banning candy for health reasons and throwing out some bunk that Halloween promotes young people to misbehave and play pranks.

A note to readers: Tricks and pranks occur if you DON’T give them their candy. Thus the phrase, "Trick or Treat."

So to those who fret over the day and think this will somehow psychologically scar children and cause them to consider worshipping the devil, joining a cult or just wearing ugly black make-up –– stop it.

The only thing children need to really know is that Halloween is a fun day to play dress-up and get candy. Really, that’s it.

If you want to make this event something educational, teach your children that if they want something cool, sometimes they have to make it themselves. Not to sound like my dad or grandfather, but money doesn’t grow on trees, ya know.

Sure, I would’ve loved those new Superman costumes that are all shiny with the built-in muscles, but no way were my parents spending that much for a costume. 

When I was younger, my mother used a blue sweat shirt, made a red "S" on it. Then we found a red cape and the rest of the stuff. Tada! Instant Superman. And I filled my outfit with REAL muscles –– while wearing a winter coat underneath.

So if you want to confuse children, make a fuss. Have them hear about how some think Halloween is offensive and why.

And if parents and school administrators don’t stand up to those who want to outlaw things like dressing up, it won’t stop there.

Next will be the push to not allow children to play "Tag" on the playground because it ostracizes the person who is "it." Teachers won’t be allowed to grade papers with red ink because it’s considered a "negative color" and other such nonsense that has happened in schools throughout the nation.

There are few things that are sacred anymore. Children don’t go out to play like they used to, and they learn about things from the Internet and elsewhere at a too early age that just baffles my mind.

So why don’t we just leave well enough alone?

One thing I have learned about young people is they’re more resilient then you think. And given the opportunity, they can figure some things out for themselves –– if we let them.

Instead, we adults can worry about so many other things, like taxes, bills and the news that Brittany Spears is making a comeback.

Scary, scary world out there.

Maryville Daily Forum