I do long for the good old days. That's one of the things that us "men of a certain age" do well. The appeal of those "days" is their familiarity, their simplicity.
Take Halloween. Thankfully I grew up in the time before religious fundamentalists decided that all of our Halloween traditions were inherently evil and whether you intended any actual dabbling in the dark side or not, simply putting on a black pointy hat or a cape and wax vampire teeth, was the equivalent of walking your soul on the precipice of an abyss.
Now with the help of church-hosted Fall or Harvest festivals, and non-occult related costume selections we can partake and stay on the bright side. But I have to wonder, which is scarier-- throwing a sheet over your kid's head with a couple of eye holes cut in it, or having them dress up like Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus.
Back in the day, we celebrated Halloween full-on and we yet we had a wonderful innocence. Even our TV stars like Ricky and Lucy, Ozzie and Harriet, June and Ward Cleaver slept in twin beds. (Oooo, Cleaver--there's a scary name for you.) Maybe I'll be "Ward The Cleaver" for All Hallows Eve; you know kind of like Winnie The Pooh, or John The Baptist. And just think about June and Ward's baby boy, Beaver Cleaver! There's an image that would scare; well, beavers.
Don't get me wrong. I love that churches still provide a venue for little princesses and power rangers, if not little ghosts and goblins. I guess all I'm saying let's not throw the baby out with the witches brew, or look for a demon behind every bush.
In C.S. Lewis's masterpiece, The Screwtape Letters, which is written as a collection of advice given to a young devil in training from an experienced, teacher-type devil, you'll find thought-provoking nuggets like this:
“It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.”
One thing I do know for sure, our culture is starving for childlike imagination, creative play and even the fun of pretending. My childhood memories of Halloween were all of those things. And that made me better not darker.