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Halloween: safe as kittens

October 28th, 2010 Posted in The Art of Parenting

Parents from my generation probably remember Halloween II, also known as “Michael Myers and the Future of Socialized Medicine.” There’s a scene towards the beginning, in which an anguished parent walks her son into the emergency room because he’s bitten into an apple that contains a razor blade. Between that and the Tylenol poisonings a year later (1982), I’ve assumed that my children are essentially collecting rat poison and IEDs on Halloween night, until a close inspection proves otherwise.

Lenore Skenazy writes in today’s Wall Street Journal, however, that parental fears about Halloween are not only overblown, they fly in the face of the facts: there is no evidence that any child in America has ever been poisoned by a stranger’s candy, nor is their proof that the night brings greater danger of molestation as children romp from house to house. Skenazy argues that Halloween is not only safe for children, but arguably safer than other nights:

“Why is it so safe? Because despite our mounting fears and apoplectic media, it is still the day that many of us, of all ages, go outside. We knock on doors. We meet each other. And all that giving and taking and trick-or-treating is building the very thing that keeps us safe: community.”

Of course she doesn’t treat the really important question, which is whether dressing up like Batman and getting free candy means a child forfeits his soul to the devil. I have friends who choose not to participate in Halloween because of its pagan roots, but I’m in the Titus 1:15 camp (“to the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure”).

So as I understand it, Sunday I’ll be walking through our friends’ neighborhood (not where we live, because cows and coyotes don’t have much in the way of candy) alongside Iron Man, some kind of Star Wars character whose identity eludes me, Buzz Lightyear, and a music DJ.

I will be dressed, meanwhile, as an overprotective dad who still intends to eye strangers warily, and inspect the candy (with an appropriate Daddy Candy Tax, of course). I know it’s irrational.

UPDATE: In today’s Wall Street Journal, Rob Moll offers a sober, compelling case for thinking during this time on one’s approaching death, and the life to follow:

“For many churches this week, there won’t be any Styrofoam grave stones, skeletons or spooky signs of death and decay. Instead of morbid celebrations of Halloween, there will be innocuously termed—and innocuously decorated—’Harvest Parties.’ It’s Halloween cleaned up, made appropriate even for the youngest congregants.

But maybe that’s a wrong approach. Halloween, also known as ‘All Hallows Eve,’ and All Saints Day (on Nov. 1) offer a rare opportunity in the Christian calendar to reflect on death. The holidays were intended to celebrate the communion of the saints, the spiritual unity of all—living and dead—who trust in Christ and await the eventual resurrection of their bodies.

This is the hope on which Christians stake their lives. But in a culture with deep fears of death and dying, even many of the faithful would rather avoid talking about the grave.”

You can read the rest here if you have a Journal subscription. Otherwise go out and buy a copy. It’s worth your money.