Posted tagged ‘Halloween’

Trunk Treating Offers a Guarded Environment for our Kids

November 3, 2016

Dr. Steven J. Callis

Dressing up like a football player was not only an expression of a dream, but it was a costume that was readily available.  I loved playing football as a kid, and I had all the right equipment: shoulder pads, helmet, and all.  I do remember my older brothers making a costume for me out of a pillow case when I was little, but I really liked being a football player.

                Things were different in those days.  Children went trick-or-treating with no worries.  The popcorn ball or chocolate chip cookies wrapped in cellophane from Mrs. Carney were safe to eat.  There was no danger in stepping inside Mrs. Fowler’s house for a cup of hot chocolate.  We had the freedom to walk to other neighborhoods for a chance to increase the amount of our sweet plunder.

                My best friends back then, Mike and Max, lived two neighborhoods over.  On Saturdays or summer days my mom thought nothing of me being outside all day long.  She knew I would come home if I got hungry or tired, and that not doing so meant one of the other moms fed us lunch.  My mom took her turn feeding us from time to time, as well.

                Today’s practice of “trunk ‘n treat” began, at least in part, as a safe alternative to traditional door-to-door hunting.  A host of vehicles in a church or school parking lot offers a safer environment.  And think of the time and energy the children save when they only have to walk ten feet between treaters!

                Shopping malls also offer a safe environment for this annual candyfest.  Stores gladly welcome children as a way to express appreciation for the community patronage and to provide for a safer evening of fun.

                How did we get here?  How did our society digress in only 50 years from unlocked doors, handshake agreements, and neighborly behavior to a fear of tainted candy, child abduction, and various forms of unprovoked meanness?  How did we breed that sense of entitlement that becomes motivation for disrespect and mistreatment of other human beings?

                Author Henry James, three-time nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature, wrote, “Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind, the second is to be kind, and the third is to be kind.”  Apparently, that is something easier said than done, based on our news headlines and personal dealings with the general public.

                I still believe that the overwhelming majority of our population is represented by kind-hearted people, and acts of kindness are usually reciprocated.  Nevertheless, it is necessary today that we live our lives in precaution, not taking that kindness for granted.  More and more, it seems there are people seeking opportunity to take advantage of the kind and unguarded.

                So, I am thankful for my childhood memories of fun and almost fearless freedom to be a kid.  At the same time, I am glad to be part of a community that offers safer environments for our families on occasions such as the one that is immediately upon us.  It is encouraging to see so many people working together for the sake of our youth.  Happy treating!

What’s in your trunk?

October 27, 2014

It was not all that long ago when children could trick-or-treat in their local neighborhood without parental supervision; when there was no worry of a door-knocking child’s plunder being laced with drugs or poison; when distributing homemade treats at Halloween was acceptable.  But that was then.

My research to identify the origin of the newer “trunk-or-treat” option was unsuccessful, except to see that many sources credit – or blame – the Christian church for this phenomenon.  Dissenters claim that the church is trying to de-goblin and Christianize the holiday, creating an opportunity to preach religion to the children.

One blogger called the church “misinformed Christians” and then declared, “these well-meaning zealots are a lot more terrifying than what any kid would encounter on Halloween.”  Another source understands the alternative as “some sanctioned, artificial world where teaching kids to get candy from people in cars is viewed as beneficial. Dunderheads.”

There may indeed be some so-called fanatics who have a hidden agenda lurking inside their trunks.  And unapologetically, it is likely that a church-sponsored trunk-or-treat event will hope to include printed information about that church, or a brief verbal witness for Christ.  After all, it is Jesus himself who commanded his followers to go into all the world and preach the gospel.

In my mind, however, it is first of all a safe alternative for children and families to guard against the potential dangers that did not seem to threaten communities 50 years ago.  Some families find that mall stores provide for trick-or-treaters at their places of business.  Should we considered them to be money grubbers, or could they be saying “thanks” to their consumers by offering a way for children to trick-or-treat in a safe environment?

Further, as a local church pastor, I see it as a way for the church to give back to the community.  We desire to be a recognized and trusted presence among our neighbors; a church who not only is a beacon of the Good News, but who also caringly serves the needs of others.  We want to be a friend to those around us.

For a vast majority of people, Halloween is a harmless and fun holiday for our children and their families.  The very small percentage of our population who choose to make it an evening of dangerous pranks and malicious, destructive stunts has created the apparent need for safer alternatives; protected environments.  So, let’s support our local churches and businesses who strive to provide a night families can enjoy.

Removing the Mask

November 1, 2013

Removing the Mask

By Steven J. Callis


               However one might explain it, they all just showed up.  A Power Ranger, a princess, a lion, a couple of bumble bees, a baby pumpkin, a football player, a gypsy, a politician, Batman, a cheerleader, Little Red Riding Hood – – there were so many, I could not possibly recall all of them.

               One thing they all had in common is that they had their hands out, expecting something from me.  Now, looking at that list, we might readily expect that attitude from some of those characters, but some of them looked too sweet and too cute to be so demanding.  Actually, those are the ones who did not need to ask.  They were so adorable, how could anyone not put a treat in their bags?

               It is fun to dress up, to be someone other than who we really are.  It can be refreshing to step out of character for a couple of hours and be someone else.  After all, how boring would this special treat night be if everyone dressed in their normal daily attire?

               Then, there is the morning after.  We are greeted with a double whammy: enduring our candy hangover, and then assuming again our true identities.  Well, that is what most people expect of us, anyway.  The mask comes off, the costume is hung in the closet, and it is back to the daily routine.

               There is a word that does not necessarily apply to our annual trick or treat event, but it does have to do with wearing a mask.  Our English word, “hypocrite,” is derived from the Greek word meaning “to act on stage; to play a part, or to pretend.” History tells us that actors would wear a mask on stage, and often the mouth of the mask would include a kind of megaphone shape to assist the player in projecting the voice throughout the auditorium.

               Today hypocrisy has to do with actions that do not support a personal belief system.  Whether it is a matter of insecurity, the desire for acceptance, or a number of other reasons, the result most likely includes the inability to experience genuine, interpersonal relationships with other persons; a sad and lonely way to live.  The logical progression will develop a mutual lack of trust between the mask-wearer and his/her counterparts.

               If you are one who may struggle to any degree with the feeling of low self-worth, or in thinking that no one else could possibly believe in you and accept you for who you really are, I encourage you give others the benefit of doubt.  Most people are not nearly as demanding as we believe them to be.  Knowing that you can be trusted, that your motives are pure, and that you are true to yourself goes a long way in developing friendships.

               And because I believe the Bible to be the Word of God, I take comfort and encouragement from Psalm 139, as the Psalmist perceives humanity from the perspective of the Creator.  I must wonder if these words of David are what inspired the familiar adage, “I know I’m somebody, ‘cause God don’t make no junk!”