Witches, ghosts and goblins had better watch out — so much frightening stuff has happened over the last couple of years that Halloween is no longer the scariest day of the year.
I lounge around in my skeleton pajamas like that’s perfectly normal, my husband has transformed our bedroom into his work-from-home-bat-cave and our kids are so used to wearing masks that they often forget to take them off when they come home from school.
But that’s nothing compared to a heart-stopping email that says “Exposure Notice” in the subject line, learning that a local school has closed due to a rampant COVID outbreak, or following a friend’s progress in the ICU. Scary stuff indeed.
Last year, we chose to stay home for Halloween because it was a pre-vaccine world. For the first time ever, we didn’t turn on our porch light. Not that it mattered, trick-or-treaters never bother with our cul-de-sac anyway. Like Brigadoon, trick-or-treaters only find us once a century.
But this Halloween, now that my whole family is vaccinated, I’m turning on every light in the house. Heck, I’ll even set up a card table at the end of the cul-de-sac with a giant bowl of full-sized candy bars if I have to. This year, I’m ready to make Halloween the least scary day of the year. I hope that Halloween 2021 can stop fear in its tracks.
I’m tired of things being scary. Nobody trusts anyone. OK, that’s not true exactly. We trust our echo chamber. We trust the silo of information that social algorithms feed us over and over again. Algorithms reward outrage by showing us content designed to inflame us. We argue with total strangers. We judge our acquaintances and their whackadoodle beliefs. We unfriend people from high school because they don’t vote like we do. The scariest part about our world is that we’ve stopped believing in our neighbor.
Halloween at its very core is about neighborliness. It’s about trusting that the people who live down the street will open their front door and offer our kid a safe treat to eat. Halloween means sending our precious children into a darkened world and relying on strangers to be good to them.
An important note is that it’s easier for me to send my white kids off trick-or-treating, knowing that they are unlikely to be racially profiled. That’s important for white moms like me to consider, especially if we’ve spent the majority of our lives not understanding how much racism our friends of color face every day.
Open our hearts. Open our doors. Open our wallets to purchase candy. Then, when we hear the doorbell ring, slip on a mask, just in case, because we care about the unvaccinated child standing in front of us.
Some people view Christmas as the holiday that spreads peace on Earth — but it’s also today. Halloween is the night we make total strangers happy.
Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.