This is Halloween?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Halloween. On every street corner you see 12-foot skeletons and giant inflatable jack-o-lanterns looming over leaf strewn lawns. These scary home decorations are multiplying every year, threatening to become more popular than Christmas displays. Another sign of the twisted times we are living in.

This Halloween there will be some noticeable changes due to the pandemic. The mask debate still rages on. Should children wear a protective mask under their Halloween mask? Over their Halloween mask? Both? Some communities have banned Halloween masks in schools, but medical masks are mandatory. No wonder our children are confused.

Mask wearing is a polarizing question with many different viewpoints depending who you ask. People have become much more mask lax than they were 18 months ago when everyone was living in fear of the virus. Today inside grocery stores, from what I’ve noticed, mask wearing seems to be about 50/50 with the general public. I felt uncomfortable the other day picking up a book at the Stoneham Library when I realized I left my mask in my car. I apologized to the young man working behind the plexiglass partition.

“No worries,” he said. “You don’t have to wear masks inside the library anymore. I only wear mine so people don’t freak out.”

I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not. I left with my book in hand and a sense of confusion as to just what the rules are.

But getting back to Halloween, Dr. Fauci says it’s okay to enjoy the October holiday this year so we have his blessing. Hopefully he will give us his blessing for Thanksgiving and Christmas too.

The Halloween holiday has lost some its spirit since I was a kid. It’s safe to say, bobbing for apples is a thing of the past. That’s probably for the best, with or without a pandemic. (Murder mystery fans, if you’ve read Agatha Christie’s novel Halloween Party, you know what I’m talking about.)

The good news, random acts of vandalism should be down this year. The popular prank of egging houses is out of the question. Egg prices have skyrocketed. As well as the price of shaving cream, and our most valuable commodity, toilet paper. In the old days, the morning after Halloween looked like a war zone in neighborhoods inhabited by rowdy children. The cleanup took forever.

Most communities now have trick-or-treat strolls through the center of town where youngsters in costume can safely visit local businesses in the afternoon. I guess that’s better than tripping over curb stones in the dark of night with only a tiny flashlight beam to guide you.

Some traditions haven’t changed. The nice houses in the rich neighborhoods still give out the best candy bars (full size even). The trade off – long driveways and hundreds of steps to the front door. But it’s worth it.

I was surprised by the list of the most popular Halloween costumes for 2021. At the top of the list, outfits worn by the mysterious masked soldiers from the South Korean Netflix series Squid Games. The costumes are as disturbing as the television show itself. The costumes consist of mono-colored jump suits with a black mask and a symbol of a circle, square or triangle in place of a face. Simple, yet simply terrifying. Equally popular and even more horrifying is the covered-up head-to-toe dressed in all black look that Kim Kardashian wore to this year’s Met Gala. Don’t be frightened if you see more than one Britney Spears ringing your doorbell as well.

Maybe some Halloween hijinx are just the distraction we need right now. Grab a candy apple and a popcorn ball, turn on The Nightmare Before Christmas, and let’s get this party started. We’ve had enough tricks this year. It’s time for some treats!

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