And the Difference Between Life and Halloween Is?

And the Difference Between Life and Halloween Is? October 31, 2010

pumpkins_2Ah, Halloween. The name is derived from the Latin word hollow—meaning temporary, fleeting—and ween, as in, “How are we gonna ween our kids off all that sugar?” So we combine “fleeting sensations” with “how will this ever end?,” and what do we have?

But of course: life itself.

Life is Halloween. We dress up (if things like a tie for men and pantyhose for women aren’t costume material, I’m a teenage werewolf); we venture out into the big, scary world; without meaning to beg or anything, we do everything we can to maximize getting as much of what we want as we can possibly get away with; with booty in hand we rush back home again; we try to not immediately tear through everything we secured for ourselves, but to instead save at least some of it for later; we fail to do that; we feel regret and even a little shame; we crave want more.

We do that many times over again; and then, eventually, we die.

Add a witch here and an angry zombie there, a continuum of full moons, some occasional screaming that scares you half to death, some neighbors with whom you’re forced to interact but whom (as it turns out) you’d prefer not to know at all—and there you have it.


Already tonight a little kid of maybe six years old came to our house, fully decked out as a cowboy–except instead of a cowboy hat he was wearing a spaceman’s helmet.

“Wow!” I said. “Cool!”

“I know!” he said. “I’m a space cowboy!”

So. Life is good.

God bless you, on this and every night.

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  • Very fun, John. Happy Halloween. And thanks for the blessing; I love when you do that. It makes you seem, hmmm, not so cantankerous.

  • Writeright

    My 11 year old boy told my 5 year old daughter that she would go to Hell for going trick or treating (he was refusing to dress up). She said, “Hell?! I only wanted the candy!” And so my little velour dinosaur went treating while big brother stayed home… and now who wants to share her candy!!! Halloween is definitely a day that can raise strong feelings on both sides!

  • Meg

    Great post. I can see the similarities between halloween and life.

  • Anonymous

    I’m actually surprised to hear that I ever seem cantankerous. How funny.

  • Anonymous

    Whoa! What an awesome Halloween story. It pretty much has everything!

  • Anonymous

    Yes. In a word: scary. Thanks, Meg.

  • Shadsie

    Of course, every kid seeks the elusive large Hershey bar – and sometimes winds up with only a load of those nasty peanut-butter taffy things.

    I spent my evening saving cats from vampires. It’s true! Just went to work at my barn job tonight (and no self-respecting farm goes without a passal of cats, you see). Taking some time out to pet friendly kitties, I found up yanking a few ticks off of them. It went like this: *Angry meow* Me: I just saved you from a vampire, and this is the thanks I get? *Angry meow.*

  • Anonymous

    ‘Tis true, indeed.

    And, God bless you and Cat!

  • Anonymous

    I think God saves an especially lovely spot in heaven for anyone who on earth ever came to the rescue of–or even got along with, or particularly cared about—cats. I hope so, anyway. Cuz then I’m in.

  • Ok first of all Panty hose MUST be originally designed to be worn only for costumes on Halloween, and precisely for devilish sorts of costumes. Its either that or the designers were some sort of female leg hating sadists! I flat out refuse to wear the stupid tubes of quasi nylon that rip at the thought of anything sharper then a cotton ball touching them. Then there is the fact that you can get one leg up straight, but the other will wrap itself tourniquet-like around the other leg. Putting on panty hose can be like a real-life horror story.Other then that I love your analogy. But then I usually do like your analogies.And one more thing, true story. I was visiting a friend and taking turns handing out candy. That neighborhood had lots of kids visiting. Some little boy came to the door, and he was holding a can of creamed corn. Seems like someone in the neighborhood had ran out of the candied version of corn, and was forced to substitute.

  • yeah, you cantankerous? When does that ever happen?! YOu called yourself this, not me! I just think you’re wonderfully warm, funny, intelligent, gracious, and wholeheartedly loving at all times! But that’s me…

  • Ace

    And I hope the 5 year old told the 11 year old to take a hike! That’s HER candy! 😛

  • Ace

    Well I’m glad SOMEBODY here got trick-or-treaters. All I’ve got is a bag full of starburst and candy bars that my teeth and waistline don’t need.

    I miss dressing up and begging for candy. I used to love Halloween even more than Christmas as a kid because of the costumes and thrill of staying up and running around the neighborhood after dark in a pack of other kids. Rare freedom for a munchkin.

  • Ace

    I think frontline plus works on ticks… (yea I know it’s expensive, but the barn owners ought to look after their smaller fuzzy critters as well as the big hoofy ones).

    (can you tell I’m a crazy cat lady in training yet?)

  • Oh dear! I would SO not dare embarrass myself like that with a can of corn! I’d just turn off my lights, lock my door, and huddle.

    Wait. Come to think of it, I do that every year anyway.

  • Actually, this neighborhood hasn’t had many kids in it for ages, and when they did they were obnoxious teenagers in trouble with the law every time they turned around.

    What few kids are left here are taken by their parents to malls where the merchants play “house with candy” and dole it out for the kiddies. They say they feel the kids are safer, the candy is safer than from complete strangers in houses, and the security of the mall makes it safer, too. Of course, these parents stay right nearby their kids, rightly so, these days.

    So, I haven’t seen trick-or-treaters here in ages.

  • You didn’t feel compelled to speak to your 11 year old son for saying his 5 year old sister would “go to hell”?

  • Aw, come on, Mr. Shore. Ya knows ya iz kantankerous! It’s a lovable trait. I know so cuz my late sister was Miss Kantankerous of the Universe and she was very lovable. I say wear it proudly! 😉 😉 😉

  • Hey since it’s late and I’m in a rare mood, can I just reveal what a true nerd-dork I am? My kids– all three of them– were Star Wars characters three years in a row. And I made their costumes, every stitch except Annakin’s helmet and Han Solo’s gun. My favorite– sewing Lando Calrisian’s (sp?) very cool polyester pants with the 70’s flared leg and his dashing two-toned cape. A Mascara moustache on my seven year-old and he was ready to say “We’ll last longer than we will against that Deathstar!” in his best Lando voice. Can I also say, it kinda sucks rocks that Lando is graduating from high school this year and leaving my nest empty… though my heart is full of memories. It’s the greatest wonder and the greatest ache all at the same time.

  • Anonymous

    u so sweet

  • Anonymous

    Oh, wow! What a story. Awesome.

  • Ace

    Yea, I hate to say it, but we’ve become a more paranoid society, and not wholly without reason. :

  • Anonymous

    Great job John –

  • Anonymous

    Bet you weren’t ready for that! But I’m sure you know where it’s at, yeah yeah yeah yeah.

    I wince when Christian people call Halloween a pagan ritual, but somehow give Christmas trees, wreaths, twinkly lights, fashion parades and Easter egg hunts a pass. Hard to believe my church grew out of the Jesus People movement. Now it’s the “Jesus, people!” movement

  • Barnmaven

    I hope the analogy never wears off. Greatest moment from trick or treating last night: My six year old son, after receiving a small canister of PlayDoh from a house…running down the driveway to me, holding his sack high: “Mom! This is the BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!!!” May we never, any of us, fail to remember that each and every day is born with the promise of being the Best Day Ever.

  • My granddaughter, who is almost three, was so excited. She didn’t care what she was getting, only that she was Twick or Tweeting! She only balked once at a man handing out candy in a cape and a full mask. I got the candy, and she smiled and waved, then said thank you to the “big scary man”. She said thank you to everyone, or Happy Halloween. Her mom and baby brother as Big bird and Little bird were the hit of the neighborhood, well at least the toddler round. Strangers took photos.

    It is quite delightful to experience something like that with a small child

  • Lisbeth

    Hey Rin_Tin_Tim: I just wanted to thank you for the chuckle you gave me this morning. I was reading through these latest comments to John’s post and came across yours. I always enjoy reading what you have to say and have always just sorta glanced at your little ID pic there in the corner, never actually stopping to look very closely. With my 52-year-old eyes and weak observation skills I just thought it was a picture of a guy with some kind of facial hair and glasses… (I obviously wasn’t noticing the perky ears or putting two and two together to realize the cleverness of your name). Well, imagine my delight when I clicked on your pic and I realized I was looking at a dog wearing glasses. Love it! Anyway, thanks for adding a little unexpected humor to my morning.

  • Shadsie

    She uses something on them – but these are Pennsylvania deer ticks here. Tenacious buggers. Also, I think the barn owner gets the stuff but forgets to put it on the cats. She’s a wonderful lady but she’s very, um… flighty? Tends to haver her mind on 50 different things at once. Very often, she actually forgets to pay her people on time – have to remind her to get me my check.

    This isn’t malicious (I worked for another barn where the owner was a horrible thing who seemed to *hate* parting with any amount of money)… this owner is actually just forgetful. I mean, last year, I fell down the stairs of the hayloft and broke my arm and not having Worker’s Comp set up (because of it being Agricultural), she wound up paying *out of pocket* to fix me up, my bruised kidney and physical therapy included – so, I trust her good heart, just not her flighty head!

  • Anonymous

    You are very welcome, Lisbeth. Glad I could make you chuckle.
    Likewise, without my specs, I am blind. Look even closer at my avatar, and you might see that the glasses and eyes behind them are mine.

  • Don Whitt

    I….hate…ticks. My favorite dog of all time got Lyme disease on a high sierra backpacking trip. I hadn’t inoculated her – my fault. Gave her horrible arthritis, by the time it was diagnosed and treated. $&^(@*% ticks!!!

  • Don Whitt

    Is it really for a good reason or have we been worried into it? Statistically, I’m not sure if it’s any worse – we’re just so much more aware.

  • Don Whitt

    FYI – my 13 yr old son, who probably did his last trick-or-treat round of his life, told me tonight that he “got a giant Hershey Bar” at some house. Good times.

  • Ace

    Yea, I dunno. I mean, when I was a kid, the parents made sure we travelled in a herd, so they weren’t completely oblivious.

    Seems like kids are hardly allowed to be kids anymore though. Everything has to be “structured”. I guess Halloween is a little to anarchic for modern parents.

  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the 5 year old is sweet enough to share her candy even after big brother’s snarky comment. Siblings are like that. Kids are great. No wonder Jesus was so keen on their overall ability to love, trust, and forgive without much bother.

    Happy election day.

  • Ace

    LOL, your kids must be nothing like my (older) brother and me.

    According to my mother, when she brought me home from the hospital, the first thing my (then 18-month old) brother did was hit me on top of the head. And then spent the next few months throwing his toys at me when he thought our mother wasn’t looking.

    Oh and then there was that time he literally picked me up and threw me head-first into a closed door. I was probably 5 or 6 by then.

    Kinda like hawk chicks – the older one always tries to shove the younger one out of the nest, or peck it to death, or keep it from eating so it starves.

    Good thing he grew out of that sillyness. We get along fine now (most of the time).

    We didn’t get along so well back then though. Not sure that was anything like Jesus was trying to teach. 😛

  • kenleonard

    I think it’s possible that that might be why big brother stayed home in the story. Not to speak for him, but as a parent myself, that’s the way I read the story. I’m thinking that there was a stern talking-to and a grounding involved, here.

  • chellee

    “Bapa” and I (Grammy) took 4 year old Bella and 21 month old Emma to our local zoo for what was described as “a non-scary environment of pure fun and entertainment with games for all ages”. We ended up having to park about 1/2 mile away….quickly walked there with the girls on our shoulders (owie) and hurried so we could stand in line for 40 minutes. We were so excited to edge our way through the entrance and into the zoo….FINALLY! The very first costumed character scared the girls so badly they wouldn’t accept the (approximately) SEVEN pieces of candy we managed to procure on their behalf. They were too scared to even extend their buckets to get their own candy. We inched along for an hour and a half….smashed in the crowd…..unable to see a thing up ahead….thinking the entire time that “any minute we will break through into ALL THE FUN”. Hmmmmpfh! We inched and inched….the girls clinging to us as scary character after scary character hovered….like vultures…along the edges of the corded off pathway we were STUCK in. We would have turned around and left if we could have….well….turned around.

    I saw one “game” of Throw The Beanbag. But the masses behind us grumbled as we hesitated in line to consider letting the girls play the “FUN GAME (S) FOR ALL AGES”. So we carried on. This was wonderful. Occasionally one of the characters would ask the girls if they wanted their pictures taken….but nothing doing. They’ve done been sheert. At the end of the line I finally got my picture taken…..ALONE….with Raggedy Ann. I figured I can get a copy and give it to the girls later for posterity’s sake.

    After our sweaty, grueling hour and a half, we were ungraciously spit out upon the pavement. We were finally free to look about us as everyone scattered. I think they were just trying to escape. I regretted going until our daughter told me that Bella Rose told her that she had, “SO MUCH FUN! I hope we can go again next year!!!!” Wow. How cool. (and how terrifying!) She had fun! YAY! 😀