Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Halloween Under Attack
I just read in my local paper that kids in Montgomery Public Schools won’t be celebrating Halloween today at school. Apparently, even sending cupcakes to school is forbidden. The district has a new “Student Wellness Policy” which encourages parents to bring or provide healthy foods at school parties. I’m not going to argue that we don’t need to watch what we feed our kids, but it’s probably the Kraft Mac 'n Cheese more than a stray cupcake that’s making kids fat.
When Jeff and Scott were in elementary school, the kids dressed up and paraded around the neighborhood and capped off the day’s festivities with parties. As a room mother for some of those parties, I saw the delighted faces of kids given a day off from mindless busy work filling out worksheets. And the way I look at it, it was also an opportunity to socialize and learn how to get along with each other.
Now, Halloween has become a religious or political liability and school districts are turning away from a tradition that’s well worth continuing in my opinion. And I’ve found something fundamentalist Christians and Muslims can agree on. Hakim ibn Abdullah over at the blog Wa Salaam says, “Halloween is the most indulgent and frivolous event in American culture.” He’s a Muslim, born in the U.S. trying to raise his children in accordance with his faith. I can respect that just as I can respect Christians and others who likewise want to raise their children in a certain way.
What I have a problem with, however, is the need to take away traditions, festivities and celebrations just to please one group or another. For example, I happen to think that fireworks on the Fourth of July are a big waste of money. Let’s do away with the displays and spend the money on helping feed some hungry people or use the money to build community centers to keep the kids off the streets.
We Americans do lots of frivolous and indulgent things. So do other cultures. But I prefer that we not sanitize and standardize ourselves into a bland, politically correct and boring world that doesn’t offend or challenge anyone’s sensibilities.