Karen Brazas: What if we changed to ‘trick and treat’? | TheUnion.com

Karen Brazas: What if we changed to ‘trick and treat’?

I was first introduced to the autumn ritual of “Trick or Treat” back in the 50s in rural Minnesota. Mass marketing of everything “Halloween” was unheard of in those days.

And our local dry goods store carried only hard candy and a few masks, never any costumes. Our costumes were always homemade and were seldom visible anyway. Because whatever our mothers fashioned for us were most often stuffed inside the heavy winter jackets we wore to ward off the late October frost. Only our plastic witch and goblin masks let our neighbors know we were Halloween celebrants.

Times were safer then. Our parents never thought to accompany us as we meandered down our dark, tree-lined streets, usually with a sister or brother, to collect the homemade cookies or popcorn balls and, if we were lucky, to indulge in a warm cup of apple cider or hot “cocoa” offered up by doting neighbors. Life was all so simple then.

But how times have changed! Halloween has come a long way from the pagan rituals of the early Celtic festival of “Samhain” when bonfires were lit and animals sacrificed to ward off ghosts determined to destroy crops. Much later, the Catholic Church inspired “All Saints’ Day” and “All Hallows’ Eve” in honor of the dead.

Maybe we’d do well to concentrate, if only for a day, on our many blessings rather than the negativity and dissension …

And now on Oct. 31, the ever popular parties, costumes and “Trick or Treating” have become almost mandatory in our country. As soon as the “Back to School” merchandise disappears from the shelves, everything spooky and orange replaces it. Halloween is a billion-dollar commercial extravaganza here in the USA.

I recently sent a photo of my “adorable” (aren’t they all!) grandchildren surrounded by giant pumpkins to friends of ours in Lithuania. Mantas, a young father, commented that Halloween isn’t celebrated much in the more rural areas of his country. Instead, he told me, Oct. 31 is “peace and concentration” day. Although there is a certain amount of Western style revelry the larger cities, most often “All Saints’ Day” is a day marked with respect for the deceased, a peaceful day spent contemplating one’s blessings.

Perhaps there’s a lesson here for us.

Maybe we’d do well to concentrate, if only for a day, on our many blessings rather than the negativity and dissension that are running rampant in our country.

Nasty Facebook posts and Twitter rants could hold off for the day. The media could report only positive news, minus the political slurs and innuendoes.

We could concentrate instead on the vivid colors that surround us this beautiful autumn season. We could be kind to one another, smile more, and contemplate the goodness in our lives.

We could change “Trick or Treat” to “Trick and Treat.” The “Trick,” being able to pull this off, to make the change. The “Treat,” some peace … far sweeter than a Halloween bag filled with candy.

And, since we must, we can still embrace the charm, the innocence, the wholesomeness of the sweet little ghosts and goblins who come knocking on our doors.

Karen Brazas lives in Nevada City.

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