Ghosts in the attic.

Remember when Halloween was one night a year?

Now it’s a season.

I used to love Halloween when I was a kid. It was the one night of the year when you could dress up and go out after dinner and run around in the dark with a paper bag and total strangers would give you candy to fill it up. Fairly cool.

But of course all of this has changed. Very few people allow their children out into the night unattended any more. By the time I had kids of my own I wouldn’t let them run around loose, even though we lived in a relatively safe rural neighborhood.

In recent years the celebration of Halloween has exploded in our culture, with lights, cameras and all sorts of activities, from lavish parties and parades to corn mazes and some genuinely frightening haunted houses. Halloween has turned into a minor marketing bonanza.

'Tis the season to be creepy.

What does this say about us as a nation? It seems a bit paradoxical that on the one hand we are ever more cautious and fearful of threats from enemies both real and imagined, while our “entertainment” goes to great lengths to scare the pants off us. And apparently, we love it. I guess the rush from fear-generated adrenaline must be even more addictive than the sugar rush from candy.

I still love the costumes and the pumpkins and the adorable little witches who come to my door on Halloween night. But then, I’ve always been a sucker for make-believe, whatever the season. Yet what I like most about Halloween isn’t the candy or the horror movies –  it’s the way the holiday has evolved into a kind of festival of creativity for people of all ages and backgrounds. Whether you choose to ignore it, or go whole Hogwarts, it’s a party for anyone who wants to join in.

I’m pumped.

The Spike-o-lantern.

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