A caller a few days ago wondered if “we” had changed the date of Halloween this year.
The question immediately prompted me to make a series of questions of my own. By using the word “we,” did the caller mean the newspaper? The leaders of the City of Brownwood and the County of Brown? Or does “we” simply mean “we the people” of our community?
And regardless of who “we” are supposed to be, what does that mean? Does this mean that “we” actually have the power to change the calendar… to move the celebration that’s been observed by families for generations on the same Oct. 31 year after year?
The possibility has been posed enough times this year, and for enough years through recent memory, that I’ve decided the question must be a legitimate one. And many residents must think that it’s not a bad idea to be somewhat flexible on the timing of our observance of Halloween.
In Texas, Friday night football is a bigger tradition than even Halloween, or so it seems, so it might not be a bad idea to arrange schedules so the two don’t conflict when Oct. 31 falls on a Friday, as it does this year.
Our office also fields this question in the years in which Oct. 31 falls on a Sunday. Those callers seem to be hesitant to dress their children as devils and witches on the same day they take them to Sunday school. Someone might argue that if you won’t do something on a Sunday, you shouldn’t do it on any other day either, but I’ll leave that matter for others to ponder.
As it turns out, several locations in the area are observing Halloween on days other than Oct. 31. Various organizations are sponsoring haunted houses and carnivals in the days leading up to Halloween, and many of them will also be open on the big night itself. But to answer the question that’s on everybody’s lips, no! “We” haven’t changed the date of Halloween, and I’m not sure anyone can.
Let’s say a community somehow arrives at a consensus that trick-or-treating shouldn’t be scheduled when football games are played or churches hold services. Let’s say community leaders encourage parents to take their youngsters around for their candy on Oct. 30. You know what will happen. Kids will go out on Oct. 30 and pick up as much candy as they possibly can. Then, they’ll do exactly the same thing again on Oct. 31. Instead of moving the date of Halloween, you’ll duplicate it. And frankly, folks, who wants that?
Annual celebrations, such as Halloween, can indeed become inconveniences to our way of life. If your hometown high school football team is playing at home this year, you might have enough time to run the little ones around the neighborhood to pick up a bag full of candy before heading to the stadium. But if your team is on the road, your family might have to be on the road as well several hours before the accepted time for trick-or-treating rolls around.
Even Christmas can be an inconvenience for some. Remember a few years back when a handful of churches made news because they canceled worship services when Christmas fell on a Sunday? I said, “What?” It turns out that those churches decided attendance was going to be so low, that canceling services was the thing to do. Besides, they weren’t able to recruit enough members who were going to be there to have any ushers.
So, prepare your costumes and stock up on candy, because Halloween is going forward on Oct. 31, as scheduled, no matter what else your appointment book has in store for you that night. After all, it’s tradition.
Gene Deason is editor of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Friday. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.