OK, so I'm wading into dicey waters here as the end of my favorite month approaches. Autumn in West Virginia in general, and October in particular, is the highwater mark of culture back in West Virginia. As in many parts of America, we have exceptional fall festivals, the harvest, school dances, pick-up football games in the late afternoons before dark . . . and yes, we do Halloween up right, too.
In addition to the trick or treating, the elaborate costumes reflecting the imagination of parents and their children alike, we've even kept bobbing for apples alive, along with reading tales by Washington Irving and Edgar Allan Poe. But the costumes are what stand out in my mind's eye. My dad was a very busy man with long hours at work, but he always found time for two things with me growing up: fishing, and making the most of every holiday.
Halloween was no exception. He helped me create some neato costumes year after year for our community's annual Halloween costume contest. Thanks to his help, I either won or was in the running in my age category. After all, who had ever seen a huge Hershey's Kiss before, with just my ten-year-old feet visible underneath its eight-feet circumference at the bottom Lots of aluminum foil! Others played devils, witches, and ghouls -- you know how little kids like to feel empowered for once, growling playfully at their friends or the adults.
I know the honest religious objections to all this deviltry and revelry. Are we not celebrating the fallen angel in all this, making this his day somehow? Hasn't the comedy of Halloween robbed us of All Saints Day and its more serious tone?
Respectfully, as those who have enjoyed the predominantly innocent activities of Halloween know, the objectors are missing our point. For when we can take the devil's day and mock him, laughing at his imagined power over us as children of the risen Lord, we are taking away his power, not adding to it.
Every time I see a little kid (or even a dog) dressed up hilariously like a devil at Halloween, I am reminded of Thomas More's immortal words: "The devil, that proud spirit, cannot endure to be mocked." Mock on, trick or treaters, mock on!
(Image courtesy of Amazon)