Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Hallowean of Fright

Those familiar with our household know that Dave loves Halloween. It's his favorite holiday, and he doesn't miss a "creak" or an "eek" when it comes to decorating our house. Every year his amazing displays are touched up, perfected, or made even larger and gruesome. Similarly, more and more people come by to admire his handiwork, engaging their inner child (if they aren't already one).

Dave built it, and they did come. And did they ever come! Last Halloween word spread even faster than the year before. "Come and see the Grimm Reaper's house"! This was no drive by and see the pretty lights type of frenzy, mind you. This was a "Get out of your car and check it out!" kind of thing.

In addition to decorating the outside of our home, we have several window displays in our formal living and dining areas, all of which can be seen by the street. (We aren't talking murals or decals here either.) We also hang a menacing ghoul that floats just above our front door (on the inside) that can also be viewed by passer byes. We have fans, strobe lights, fog machines, scary sounds, music, and lots of black lights too. And then there is Dave....

Dressed up as a 7 foot tall Grimm Reaper, Dave lurks about, silently entertaining those who come within his range. Occasionally some unwary soul will turn around startled, having finally been made aware of Death's presence by the laughter and stares of onlookers. People just can't get enough of his "you will be next" pantomime. Dave's performance has proven to be such a hit, in fact, that by the time things ended last year, he had been asked to pose for numerous photos while dressed in character. If that weren't enough, he also made it on to a few private video recordings! He's a celebrity now, what more need I say?

Sadly, despite all the fun and glory, there always ends up being a few minor incidents in which a child or two ends up on the verge of tears. Although we've managed to avert a catastrophe thus far, this year may prove to be different, as a number of set backs already challenge Dave's flawless record.

As many of you know, I tend young children during the day. I have even been privileged enough to be able to do it from the comforts of our home, unlike when I first started. For this I am truly grateful. On the whole, this hasn't changed our home routine nearly as much as working outside the home did. That is, until the creepy crawlies, and the ghastly ghosties needed to start making guest appearances.

As fate would have it, it turns out that the cute little whippersnappers I take care of freak out extremely easy! (I'm not exaggerating either.) Not only are they highly sensitive to things that go bump in the night, the mere thought of such things puts them in such a state of panic that they literally can't go anywhere alone, much less be in the dark. (They freeze with terror, and cling for dear life, as the saying goes.) Therefore, change is in the air for Dave's Halloween affair.

So what types of alterations are being made to Spookfest 2008? I would love to report that things are being toned down a bit by the adaptation of more kid friendly themes, but sadly this is not the case. In fact, things are probably getting scarier! Dave has decided to do try something else instead; a plan which requires less sacrifice on his part. Dave plans to wean the kids of their Halloween fright: (You actually didn't think that was a typo in the title, did you?)

For starters, Dave is letting the kids play with most of the things he plans to use. We have been having them do things such as honk the masks' noses, pretend to carve pumpkins, or play tag with loose limbs. They pretend to cut pizza with Michael Meyers' knife, which adds it's own scary music at the touch of a button. We also let them talk into a fun voice distorter, which allows them sound like aliens, monsters, storm troopers and so on. You get the picture.

Additionally, Dave has been putting together his villains where the tiny tots can see them transform day by day from mere masks, pieces of PVC, costumes, and so on, to the final product. The kids are encouraged to touch and explore. We move the props around and change their posture occasionally as well. So far things are going as planned.

Next, Dave plans on letting the children help out with the indoor displays by letting them assist with the smaller sized props. Once the spider webs are up, perhaps they may venture out to help put the spiders in place and so on. Then, once the kids have gone home on Oct. 31, David will add the final touches and change into his costume.

We can say that we are doing this for the kids' own welfare, it's also just some harmless fun, but is that entirely so? I have to admit, all of this gradual desensitizing reminds me of Satan and his own subtle methods which lead the children of men "carefully down to hell". (2 Nephi 28:21-22) It makes me wonder who is really being numbed here, the kids, or us?

Though celebrating Halloween by no means comes even close to being a sin, does dressing up as fictitious malefactors glorify the face of evil in some small way? Does portraying gruesome scenes make light of heinous acts? I think so. I think we as a society have slipped ever so slightly into hallowing the not so hallowed. Perhaps instead of weaning little
children of their fright of Halloween night, maybe we should start weaning Halloween night of all the fright. Besides, isn't all the creative costumes, candy, and happy children fun enough?


Anonymous said...

Wow! well said... I think Halloween is too scary too...But, then, again, I get frightened of my own shadow, and I really don't like the dark, even here in safe little Orem...
zryttho: the name of a really cool mythological creature you dress up as for Halloween.

Trillium said...

When I was a kid, Halloween was my favorite holiday, too. But that was back in the day when Halloween was more cutesy than it was scary. It was more of an autumn festival. I still like cutesy. I do not like gruesome, grim, or gorey. Who really "enjoys" a peek into the hideousness of h--l?

For me, Halloween began to lose its charm when the two TV shows, "The Munsters" and "The Addams Family," were popular back in the 1960s. Like too much candy becomes cloying, these stupid shows became so-o-o-o-o tiresome: Took all the fun out of Halloween. And that's when Halloween celebrations and celebrators took a "turn for the worse." And, as a mother, I could no longer "like" Halloween (at least not what it had become).

leafhopper said...

wow, I would love to see a video of your frightful house.
Yes, we as humans ARE becoming desensitized but only because we choose to expose ourselves to it. That's why I don't like my kids to see scary things. However, on the lighter side the kids love to watch "Nightmare Before Christmas" this time of year, but what can I say I love it too.