By Blaney Pridgen

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views  and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser. 

We are coming up on Halloween, October 31st.  It’s always good to remember the origin of that childish foolishness.  Halloween is a contraction of All Hallows’ Eve, the eve of All Saints’ Day, November 1st, which is followed the next day by All Souls’ Day.  Woven into those days of remembrance and celebration is the contemplation of those who have gone before us, especially the saints of Christian history and the faithful departed.  I include Ruth Ginsburg among the latter, even though All Saints’ and All Souls is supposed to be about serious Christians.  But, back to Halloween.  It has nothing to do with its origin; yet one can surmise how skeletons and tombstones crept in.  I don’t know where the movie monsters and little superheroes come from.  Halloween has as much to do with Christianity as Mardi Gras, which evolved out of Shrove Tuesday, a day of feasting before the fast and penitence of Lent.  I don’t believe that anyone in the Mardi Gras parade at New Orleans is planning to keep a holy Lent.  Likewise, Halloween celebrants are remembering witches, bats, and Dracula, not St. Paul and Grandpa.  Give the American public something sacred and they will turn it into a pilgrimage to Walmart.

A close friend of ours recently spent several days with us.  Among our many conversations we remembered those (our dear ones, friends, family and mentors) who have passed.  This business of “passing” or “passed away” is an obituary euphemism for died or “dropped dead”.  We don’t actually die in America.  We just slip away into the ether.  Will the circle be unbroken?  My friend and I share a circle of remembrance.  In our conversation about this, he remarked, “The dead don’t haunt the living; the living haunt the dead.”  That’s profound.  Think about it.  On a weekly basis, if not daily, I haunt my dead, especially a daughter, nephew, and stepson who died way too young.  Wherever they are, my mind searches for them.  My friend searches for his lost souls too.

Back to Halloween… There may never be or at least no time soon the tradition of “trick or treat.”  That’s good.  I’ll punish you if you don’t give me a free treat?  Where did that come from?  That doesn’t sound like anything related to the eve of All Saints’ Day.  I am reminded of the corruption of who comes on Christmas Eve.  It’s Santa Claus (Saint Claus?) who gives toys to the good children.  What about the children in poverty who get a “hard candy Christmas?”  Are they bad compared to the children in upper middle-class families?  What does that have to do with the good rabbi who said, “let the children come unto me?”  I’m calling Santa “Mean Old Mister CLAWS” who comes on Halloween to make poor kids feel as though they have been very naughty, not nice.

Thinking about the upcoming elections, my mind wanders to tricks and treats.  When every vote is counted (or not counted according to which side of the river you live on), some folk will inevitably feel tricked or other folk will smugly feel treated, like a spoiled child.  I am hoping that they both behave.  Grown up politics is not about who gets tricked or who gets treats.  A mature society does not give nice toys to the rich kids and hard candy to the poor.  If every vote truly counts in the free democratic nation we are trying to be; then, there must at least exist an honest attempt to achieve economic justice and equality under the low.  At least an honest attempt!