On Thursday evening we’re expecting trick or treaters to come knocking on our door. We’re not expecting many. Actually only one group of dressed-up children has ever arrived at our house, hoping we'll give them candy.
Halloween isn’t big in Australia. Of course the shops are all stocked with black and orange spooky stuff. They wouldn't miss a marketing opportunity. They’re hoping to make a killing. But people aren’t buying. There’s not much demand for hairy spiders and squishy eyeballs here. Next week they’ll be a huge post-Halloween sale. Half-priced dead men’s fingers. I can hardly wait.
Like most people we haven’t bought any Halloween candy. Anyone that comes knocking on our front door will be very disappointed. I feel sorry about that but Halloween is just not something we do. I don't feel comfortable with it at all.
I'm not comfortable with strangers knocking on our door either. I’m a ‘no thank you’ kind of person. Even before a salesman has opened his mouth, the words have left my lips. Of course I smile. I’m polite. But I’m firm. Except when it comes to my Jehovah’s Witness lady. I smile and I'm polite but I don't mind talking to her at all. I guess she's trying to sell me something too, but she’s very friendly. And there's no chance she's going to persuade me. I’ll tell you about her another day… Salesmen I don't like but what about children? Yes, I can deal with them knocking on my door. I wouldn't say 'no thank you' to them. But Imogen would.
Last Halloween when our one and only group of spooky kids came calling, she opened the door and said, “No thank you,” politely but firmly.
“Are you sure, ‘No thank you’ was the right thing to say?” I asked her. “They weren’t salesmen. They didn’t come to offer us anything. They came to receive.”
Imogen shrugged her shoulders, “They didn’t protest. They just turned round and went away.”
"I guess ‘no thank you’ did the trick."
“Aren’t they the ones who are supposed to do a trick?” asked Charlotte. "If you don't give them candy, aren't they suppose to do something terrible to you?"
“Well, they didn’t threaten to do a trick,” answered Imogen. 'Even if we'd asked for one, I don't think they'd have known what to do."
It seems Australian children aren’t very good when it comes to Halloween, at least the few we've come in contact with. Their education is obviously deficient.
Talking about education, this week’s parish bulletin contained an article about Halloween. The bishop has noticed that it is trying to infiltrate our Australian culture. He's not saying our children shouldn't celebrate Halloween. But he wants to make sure our children know its real meaning.
It was quite an interesting article. I was aware Halloween has its roots in the celebration of All Saints Day, being celebrated on the eve of that day. I could have guessed the witches and devils represent evil. But I didn't know that trick or treating represents forgiveness and repentance. Or that Jack-o'-Lantern represents the self-centredness of man who thinks he can get to heaven by himself without any help.The bishop suggests our children dress up as skeletons and skulls, rather than evil witches. Skeletons and skulls at least remind us that one day we will die and that we should pray for the dead.
But I don’t think we’ll be dressing up as anything. We won’t be buying candy and spooky stuff. We'll enjoy all the photos of my American friends' Halloween celebrations instead. Our children will have to wait until All Saints and All Souls Days to do any celebrating and commemorating. We'll just do things our regular way.
And if any ghost or witch or skeleton comes knocking on the door, hoping for candy, we’ll send Imogen to say, “No thank you!” Except that sounds rather mean. The kids might be disappointed if we don't offer them a treat. Do you think they’d like a prayer or a holy card instead?