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'Trick or treat' and memories of Halloweens past

Well, I got to go "trick or treating" the other night. Halloween it was.

I'd not done that in a long time, but it surely brought back some vivid memories. Halloween has, since my childhood, never been all that big on my list of holidays. Even as an adult, after I'd learned enough history to know just a little about "All Hallows' Eve," it's barely been for me a bump in the road on the way to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

When our kids were little, we did the usual "dress up" stuff and enjoyed (or survived, from this stodgy parent's point of view), the various carnivals, trick or treating, etc. They were cute, and I'm glad we did it, but my sons will tell you that I wasn't as young then as the grandkids have made me now.

When I was a kid myself, we didn't think anything about dressing up as Dracula or Frankenstein or such ghoulish sorts of folks. Vampire teeth of a plastic sort might not have been the best idea, dentally speaking, but I had a good time with powder, hair goo, fake blood, and a black cape. It was fake and it was fun and we knew it. I never felt the slightest temptation afterward to start sacrificing neighborhood pets.

I guess it was a simpler time — perhaps more naive, perhaps more innocent. Folks on one end of things who wanted to play with really dark stuff and truly scare people were either fewer in number or a lot quieter. And folks on the other end, always serious about making sure that everyone is always serious and scared that somebody might not be, seemed fewer in number, too.

I've since learned that real zealots, genuinely pagan or pretentiously pious, are all really scary, just in different ways. Good folks to avoid. (And need to "light-en" up.) In any case, when Halloween, for reasons good or ill, got more and more complicated, it got less and less fun. But it was simply good fun and high on my list of good days when I was a little guy.

On Halloween evening, Mom and Dad helped us dress up, paint up, suit up, shoved buckets or bags in our hands, and kicked my little bro and me out the door of 125 N. Goliad to pillage the Amarillo neighborhood. I don't know what Jim's favorite treat was, but I was on the hunt for popcorn balls, chocolate, candy corn, Sweet Tarts, and maybe a caramel apple or two. One year I remember getting pretty much all of that and then erupting in something beyond gratitude.

Those memories flooded back on Halloween this year as a pretty little not-so-abominable snow lady's daddy and I walked behind Her Frosty Highness, door to door, her Secret Service abominable detail. I took her to get donuts the next morning, just in case Her Icy-ness had not had enough icing. Then MawMaw and I skipped town.

Halloween is both a lot different and a whole lot the same as it once was. Like life, I suppose. What's best about it at all times is still a gift from God and well worth a prayer of thanks as we turn toward Thanksgiving.

Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at

[email protected]

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