“Theologians Confirm 'Thou Shalt Not Steal' Doesn't Apply To Your Kids' Halloween Candy” reads the Babylon Bee headline. The accompanying photo is one of mom and dad raiding their kid’s candy stash.
Mine did not do that. Believe me, I would have known. The day after Halloween, I would dump my catch on the carpet, apportion it out and figure it might last three months. Invariably, it was gone in a week—and it wasn’t my parents’ fault.
Fast forward a few decades and a religion change later. A householder opened the door to me, the day after Halloweeen. Eyeing the porch jack-o-lantern, I told him I was half a mind to introduce myself as a trick or treater, my costume being a Jehovah’s Witness.
It proved an icebreaker. I asked him if he had many trick or treaters the night before. He had, he told me, about 100. I have never had one, nor my neighbors, but that’s because we live on an unlit, unsidewalked street not conducive to kids. His neighborhood—I looked over my shoulder to spy a house with plastic blow-up ghouls almost the height of the house itself—teemed with kids. When I told the man my candy was devoured within the week, he expressed surprise it had lasted that long.
No sense in being a spoilsport. Some of our people go into overdrive dissing the macabre holiday—all of the holidays, for that matter. It works as a research project, if you’re into that sort of thing. But it’s not a witnessing project. It’s always good when you witness not to lead with a list of things you don’t do.
It’s a like when my Scrabble-cheating brother talks back to the state ‘Get Vaccinated’ campaign. They’re just tireless at it, pounding away at the mantra to ‘Get vaccinated.’ My brother, who is vaccinated against Covid but who drew the line at the frequent boosters, said, “Sheesh, you’d think they’d get it through their heads that if people haven’t taken the shot by now, they’re not going to.”
Same thing with Halloween. Sure, point out its unsavory origin, but understand that nobody cares. If people haven’t trashed the day by now, they’re not going to. ‘It’s fun for the kids’ is what trumps all. You risk looking picayune and sanctimonious if you harp on it as a plan of action. Confine it to your own research. The holidays are among the trash carted to the curb a century ago by the ‘messenger preparing the way.’ You don’t obsess over the trash in real life. Why do it here? Move on as to what you’ve saved and what you’ve accumulated, not what you’ve thrown out.
If there’s a party going on, children will want to be a part of it. Still, growing up, there were all sorts of celebrations Jewish kids would not take part in. (though I never heard Halloween was one of them). Nobody ever said they were deprived. It was assumed they had stuff in their own background to compensate. I don’t recall my kids raising a fuss over Halloween. If they did, it was minor. We tried to do things to compensate.
It certainly was nothing like the phony ‘Witness’ kids of the Clint Eastwood movie, A Perfect World. The Witness mother in the film—they made her out to be like a puritanical Amish— squelched the complaints of her two kids, upset that they could not do Halloween trick or treating, with the pious platitude, “We have a higher calling.” No Witness in a thousand years is going to say “We have a higher calling”—they just don’t talk that way. So I knew that Clint probably didn’t know anything about Jehovah’s Witnesses and probably didn’t have it in for them in particular; he just wanted a premise for a good movie.
And now it’s time to wrap this post up and raid the fridge for lunch. “I have a higher calling.”
****** The bookstore