When I was a kid I loved Hallowe'en. It was the one time of the year you could go out with your friends unchaperoned and unchallenged - and it was after dark. I longed to have a beautiful store-bought costume that would make me feel super cool but we didn't have the money and almost everyone I knew made his or her own outfit. Besides, it was Saskatchewan and by October 31, it was cold and we needed to wear our costumes over fall coats and long pants. No chance of being glamorous.
When I went to University in Vancouver, I became to official Hallowe'en Aunt who took my niece and nephew and their friends around the neighborhood. I really enjoyed their excitement and I was very glad that I got to stay on the sidewalk while they walked up the path and yelled at the door. It was fun.
Then I moved to New York and learned that in the city, Hallowe'en wasn't a children's holiday. I It was an adult happening and the children were relegated to doing trick or treat in closed spaces - in apartment buildings and in the park on the afternoon of the 31st. It wasn't fun anymore and it wasn't innocent anymore.
I never associated Hallowe'en with anything dark - except the evening hours. It was an excuse to dress up and eat a lot of garbage. But it New York it was about aggressiveness - being loud, being brash, pushing, taking over the neighborhood, expressing gory and ugly ideas. I am sure there is a time for this and perhaps Hallowe'en is it, but the overly graphic and reification of rot and blood have forever ruined the celebration for me.
Years later, I was an avid fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer - so ludicrous, it was a campy delight. But Buffy was soon followed by more vampire movies and werewolf series - each more gruesome than the next. And I began to see my library community embrace this fascination with gothic expressions of death and memento morte. Masks, skulls, costumes. Soon, my not embracing this trend was not cool among my peers and not lauding Comic con was outrageous.
I clearly don't get it and I think that's okay. I am still a librarian but I don't knit and I don't like cats much, and I think Hallowe'en is frightening. Frightening because it is no longer playful. It is way too serious and too enamored of death. Kids are peripheral and their fun is undervalued. The market is making a killing - no pun intended - on yet another commercial extravaganza.
It's true, we have Purim here. People buy costumes. Everyone dresses up and there are parties. Some high-fructose-corn syrup is consumed. But the celebration is a commemoration of survival, of life.
I prefer that.
Baruch Ha Shem. I can still think fondly of Lik-m-aid.