In the evening, we parents will take our dressed up children door to door in our neighbourhoods. Many of the houses will be decorated like different levels of hell, with gravestones, skulls and skeletons, yellow police tape, copious cobwebs, spiders and bats, severed bloodied limbs and bloodshot eyeballs, ghosts and frighteningly realistic moving monsters. The strangers who open the door may also be dressed as sundry inhabitants of the netherworld. But you know, they will hand out candy, so it's all incredibly awesome.
Am I missing something here? Yes, I am. Here's what I am missing. While the focus of Halloween is no doubt on the witches and ghosts, there will also be many teenagers and young people (along with others not so young) who will also use this day as an excuse to wear the most provocative costumes they can get away with, making this a high school day most kids would never miss and setting the scene for wild debauchery at the many parties that are planned on this night.
And finally, there will be the wholesome contingent: the people who are trying to ignore all the dark sides of Halloween (like ignoring the dark side of the color black). They will dress their kids and themselves in innocent and adorable characters like Winnie the Pooh and robots and such. They may decorate with Jack-o-Laterns and make cute crafts like wiggly Twizzler-leg spiders. That will make it all better, surely.
This time it is actually an easy lesson. Our children naturally recoil from all the ugliness of Halloween "decorations." The seasonal shelves at various stores are filled with Halloween items that are just too disgusting, and our neighbourhood is dotted with awful house displays that can be truly scary to little children. The secular version of Halloween speaks for itself, and our kids get it. It's really only us, the adults, who can be duped into thinking that it's an indispensable tradition to celebrate the occult and the stuff of nightmares each year.