The EFM Feature

When we lived in Philly, we trick-or-treated in Society Hill with neighbors sitting on their stoops, handing out little envelopes of coins to the children (no tooth decay!) and plastic cups of wine to the adults.
People lingered in the park for an impromptu parade of the various costumes — Camille was Sleeping Beauty and Austin was Herman Munster — and it remains of my favorite memories of living there. Perhaps because it was one of the rare moments where the entire community is simultaneously committed to hanging out, giving total strangers KitKats and a little of their time.
But since we’ve moved South, Halloween is so controversially dull. Churches have “Fall Festivals” as an alternative for parents who don’t want their children participating in a holiday with historically suspect origins. “No scary costumes!” the fliers kindly warn. My church had a — ahem — Reformation Party, to celebrate one of the world’s turning-points. On Oct. 31st, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenburg Church, birthing the Protestant Reformation. People dressed like Bible characters — amazing how versatile a brown burlap sack and a rope can be — and ate award-winning chili. (John the Baptist was cute, though, and handed out “locusts” that looked suspiciously like Tootsie Rolls.)
Which is fine.
Really.
But still.
The new Southern phenomenon of having these large parties on Halloween night diminishes the joys of traditional trick-or-treating. In my neighborhood, for example, the porch lights were notably all off. Why? They were at various church functions jumping in blow-up bouncy contraptions, not home handing out dum-dums.
After celebrating the Reformation, the kids and I jumped in a minivan of a friend and went to a neighborhood and got remnants, the bottom of the bowl candy others hadn’t chosen, and it was just glorious.
Please don’t e-mail me with long explanations why you do or don’t Trick-or-Treat. Don’t tell me about it’s history or the evil that lurks beneath the cute pixie wings my child was wearing. I’ve been there and done that. Because I went to NYU, I’ve seen the elaborate costumes of transvestites in the Village Halloween Parade in Manhattan. And even in Philly, we had to put up with anti-Catholic gay activists dressed up as nuns.
But here — in Columbia, Tennessee? The only thing “Fall Festivals” protect us from are our neighbors handing out the cheap candy. And last night I missed the simplicity of the door-to-door fellowship with random people in the neighborhood you simply can’t find in a self-segregating church parking lot.
Anyone with me? If so, print out this blog post and nail it to the door of your moon-bouncing, Fall-Festival-having church. Or, simply, go trick-or-treating with the rest of America next year!


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