Halloween ain’t what it used to be

Published 1:49 pm Saturday, October 29, 2016

This Sunday afternoon I’m going to a church that’s sponsoring one of those Trunk-or-Treat events. As I understand it, children will still be allowed to dress in costumes as they go from car trunk to car trunk and reach in for candy and other treats. This will be a bit of an education as I’ve never actually witnessed such a ritual. Pray for me.

When my brother and I were growing up, we knew almost instinctually that costumes were mandatory when we were going door-to-door calling out “Trick-or-Treat! Trick-or-Treat!” Welcoming hosts would coo “Ohhh!” and “Awww!” at the cuteness or even scariness of the outfits. They’d toss candy in our bags and would get a “Thank you!” from us; he and I were raised to be polite ghouls.

Oh, sure, the candy had to be inspected by our parents first, which in retrospect was really just their way of getting first dibs. But since they helped us with the costumes and escorted us on our rounds, it seems only right that a few candy bars should be handed over in tribute.

Undoubtedly, many of you growing up in Western Tidewater have your own similar memories of participating in this holiday.

Having long ago grown too big to indulge in the Halloween tradition, I had been out of touch with the hallowed time. Meanwhile, the trunk-or-treat practice came to my attention many years ago while processing calendar and church items at another newspaper.

My eyes still roll at the thought that a church, of all places, should somehow be involved in Halloween.

So it’s come to this: Christians are watering down yet another good thing. They’re making a holiday dedicated to scary good fun and churning it into pablum. Instead of encouraging children to dress as denizens of the night — ghosts or witches — Disney princesses or superheroes have become commonplace. Yawn.

All this makes me wonder if Lucifer (aka Satan) has lost His edge.

For decades — centuries, even — He’s had dominion on this one night of the year. Oct. 31 should be a time to recognize that Night can be as strong and appealing as Day.

Times must really be tough when even the Prince of Darkness can’t scare up enough goblins to counteract this tactic. I feel sorry for the guy, I really do.

Well, with luck, at the trunk-or-treat there might be some children dressing as clowns. Now THOSE are scary.

STEPHEN H. COWLES is a staff writer for The Tidewater News. He can be contacted at 562-3187 or stephen.cowles@tidewaternews.com