10/12/15

Halloween Parades . . .


"I'm a butterfly. A sexy butterfly. Which, of course,
makes NO sense but - hee hee, let's party." 
So the town of Milford, Connecticut has decided to remove Halloween Parades from the agenda the week of Halloween. FORGET that day itself (this year) doesn't even fall on a school day. FORGET that the logic behind the cancelling of the "festivities" is based in sound logic (exclusion of those with religious and cultural beliefs inconsistent with playing dress up and begging for candy). These rich, white, Christian suburbanites want their little Johnny to be part of a parade, damn it (don't believe me, read the story and comments on this one story alone - and note how few of them even live in Milford, CT much less have kids in the schools impacted).

It should come as NO surprise to you that I do now and always have hated and distrusted Halloween and those who celebrate it (at least the secular, American revelers). Halloween's roots are in the Celtic tradition of Samhain (said "sow-in" (I love old languages)) where the new year was marked after the harvest and as the days started getting colder and shorter - about November 1st. The observant felt that the day was a blurring of the old and the present and that ghosts and spirits could escape in to the fray so bonfires and crops and animals were sacrificed for protection (fast forward to today when ringing the doorbell earns you a mini Snickers). Not long after the Catholics adopted the holiday (November 1) as an annual remembrance of the dead and martyred. They call it All Saints Day and it a holy day of obligation (an elevated occurrence with masses, etc.) on the Catholic Calendar (pick yours up at A&W restaurants and your local Eckerd Pharmacy). The tradition of fearing the souls of the dead held true so, again, the night before fires and watching were prominent but, again, only for safety (speed ahead when the "fire" of a front porch light means "Yeah. We've still got tiny Mounds and Almond Joy bars available.

So HOW, exactly, did we arrive at all the costumes and candy and bobbing for apples and blah, blah, blah? Simple . . . scope creep. Halloween, today (and by that I mean in 2015) is something that stores start shelving goods for in early-July. The sales of candy, costumes, the aforementioned tubs for apple dipping, etc. is a billion dollar industry - at least (it is hard to get true clarity on whether women buying "sexy butterfly" costumes - of which Yandy.com (alone) has 16 to choose from - are for getting candy from neighbors or erections from sexual partners) and it shows NO sign of slowing down. Churches, community centers, city governments, social groups, and any other ilk of organized American (of the proper orientation to mark the holiday) has some sorta Halloween bologna planned for the coming weeks.

So WHY do the parents of Milford care if their kids don't get to burn half a school day (and let me remind you that school are there to EDUCATE vs. entertain and indulge our children) changing in to their costumes and traipsing about the building? Because "tradition".

Yes. If you note the comments on the Facebook pages and media outlets that cover Milford (for those unaware Milford is still considered the metro-NYC area but has a good mix of city folks come to the "country" to raise their kids while making bank on the island of Manhattan and middle class folks just trying to live, work, and build a life in the same town) parents are pissed because they somehow think Halloween Parades (and the associated parties, etc. in classrooms) are tradition and should always be there.

Know what else is in jeopardy in schools? Arts funding. Honest, open, dialogue and discussion as part of sexual education. Counseling services. Proper nutrition. Support staff. Photocopies. Text books. Globes that reflect the world today vs. the late-80s (when the USSR was a thing that took up most of Europe). Tenure to attract and retain good teachers and empower them with raises and benefits to grow our collective futures under their tutelage. Acknowledgement of any other traditions, holidays, and customs NOT considered WASP-friendly.

Deep down I suspect there is some weird, passive-aggressive thing at play here where this is more about not excluding "them" and why can't "they" just follow what "we" do and I also suspect there is some stupid "I paid $100 for this costume - Billy's going to get as many wears out of it as possible" going on here. I can also only presume that part of it is one-upsmanship and nurturing odd competitive natures in kids (mainly parent vs. parent like so many pinebox derbies from my scouting past). I hope I'm wrong. I'm all but sure I'm not.

Rest easy, parents who demand weird stuff for their kids . . . you can still have the neighborhood/block party and can show off your little angel in her Harry-Potter-inspired polyester trap that entire weekend. The neighbors will still have candy. The pumpkins will still get carved. The music and fog machine will still pour from the garage. The only thing "stolen" from your child will be a few less hours of academia on Friday, 10/30. I know, I know. It sucks when schools teach.

I get it. Parents want their kids to have what they had if not better. That is an urge I feel in my own decisions and commitments to my child. But if USD 259 cancelled Halloween in the schools tomorrow - I would not bat an eyelash. But I wonder how many parents would care if they fired the secretary. Or cut multi-cultural awareness from the magnet school my child attends. Or just decided that every Friday should be "Eh. F*ck it. Wear whatever - we'll have parties." day. I fear less than that are upset about this.