Halloween 2007

It is almost six and thanks to the powers that be it is still light out so I haven't had to hand out any candy yet. The kids are off to a nearby carnival where alongside of seven million other children they'll run wild. They'll be back in an hour or so and it'll be time for me to play dad and patrol the neighborhood as they go in search of treasure of the milk chocolate sort.

In the interim the Boss is playing on iTunes and I am here sharing a few thoughts with you. Been a little short of my blogging mojo as of late. That last sentence was backwards, awkwardly constructed. Awkward construction is fine if you are Jedi named Yoda, but I am not. About the only thing we share in common is a love for The Force, but I digress.

I have been mulling over what to say in this Halloween post. Played around with just providing links to some of my old posts. That last link ties into a bunch of themes that I think are important so I am going to cut and paste a little.

Right now the world is a scary place, not that it is not always scary but there are degrees of fear. At the moment it feels like we are in a particularly strange place with a more tenuous grip on things than normal. So here we go into cut and paste mode with two excerpts from a sermon Rabbi Ed Feinstein gave:
"I take my kids trick-or-treating on Halloween. The truth is that you don't find many rabbis out on Halloween. Many of my congregants are surprised, even upset, to find their rabbi and his kids in costume celebrating a holiday that has definite Christian and pagan origins. And my kids certainly don't need any more candy in their daily diet. But something remarkable happens on Halloween, something I want my kids to see: On Halloween, we open our homes to one another. On Halloween, we come out from behind solid-core doors and dead-bolts locks and electronic burglar alarms. The doorbell is met, not with a gruff "Whose there?" and a suspicious eye in the peep-hole, but with a smile and sweets. On Halloween, and only on Halloween, we pretend we are a neighborhood again...families from disparate background who share common civic values, making life together in a common space. If only once a year, I want my kids to see what it's like when fear subsides, and people trust one another enough to open their doors."
"The most destructive disease in America, wrote the New Republic magazine some years ago, is not AIDS, but "AFRAIDS" -- the pervasive fear of violence that steals away our freedom, our sense of community, our trust. What happens to a city when everyone is afraid of everyone else? What happens to us -- to our souls -- to our children, when fear of violence is constant and pervasive? Bombarded by a daily litany of baby-snatching, berserk gunmen, child molesters, drive-by shootings, school shootings, police shootings, what happens to us? what happens to our children?"
Every now and then it is good for the children to see a neighborhood where people open their doors with a smile and a warm greeting. I work hard to teach my children to be menschen, to be productive members of society. I strive to make sure that they stay safe, that they understand that not all people or good or nice.

It pains me to do that. I don't like placing fear in their hearts, but at the same time it would be irresponsible not to do so. They need to understand that there are some monsters in the world.

Earlier this week something frightened my daughter and she began to cry. I heard her older brother try to console her. For a moment I sat in the other room and listened to them talk. I was curious to see if they would work it out together. As I sat there I heard my son tell her not to worry because if necessary "abba would kill it." "It" turned out to be a shadow but my presence in the room and a quick hug was enough to calm my daughter.

It appears that for a little bit longer I still serve as the final word on monsters. But the thing that really made me happy was a conversation I had with my son the next day. After we finished working on his homework he told me that I shouldn't worry about his sister because if ever I am not there he will be. The smile on my face told him how pleased I was with him, even as I reminded him that I would always be there to help.

It is a white lie and when they get a bit older I'll have to come clean about it, but for now let them feel that sense of peace and security that dad is around to help. The day will come all too soon when they the world through different eyes.

For now I'll have to leave you with that. I hear footsteps approaching. Time to go feed some ghosts and goblins. Happy Halloween to all.


Anonymous said...

Nice post! I was having similar thoughts about trick-or-treating as the Rabbi you quoted -- we live on a street of nice folks that we pretty much just wave hello to most of the year. But tonight, our little girl went running across the lawns or driveways and right up to our neighbors' doors which were opened with a friendly greeting and a smile. Happy Halloween!

Anonymous said...

It's wonderful when kids feel they can count on grownups to slay dragons. When my son was about five he became convinced that a vampire was stalking his bedroom. One night I came home from a class and the sitter told me he'd been very worried but then he'd remembered hearing that garlic would keep them away. When I went into his room later to make sure he was tucked in, he was sound asleep, guarded by the bottle of garlic powder perched on his nightstand.

Jack Steiner said...

Hi Laura,

It is a nice feeling isn't it.


See, he is resourceful. Haven't forgotten about the meme, just have to find some time to get it done.

The Misanthrope said...

I miss taking daughter out for Halloween and watching her get all dressed up.

Deadman said...

Sometimes, for a fleeting moment, I regret that I never had children...

Jack Steiner said...


You can always ask daughter to go trick or treating with you. Although I have a sneaking suspicion that she might have you checked out by your local shrink if you do. ;)


It is actually a lot of fun. OTOH, if you want to remove that desire try hanging out in a toy store for a couple of hours.

OTOH, maybe you'd better not. ;)

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