by Susan Russoniello

suepumpkinOctober 30, the Eve of Halloween. This holiday has its roots in Christian and pagan rights and celebrations.  Wickipedia goes on for many paragraphs on where it came from and what it stands for, but I always thought of it as an American holiday, focusing for the most part on our children.  It was always a fun event for me and my friends, excitedly planning our costumes, getting help from our parents with their creation.  Sometimes friends got together to make coordinated costumes such as Batman and Robin, Dorothy and the Tin Man, our favorite television or sports characters.  Some costumes were so incredibly clever, I was amazed.  I would find myself thinking of what I would be NEXT year before this year’s costume was even completed.

The day would start with us trying to get through the morning at school before we prepared for a parade during lunchtime which all our parents took off from work to come watch, followed by a party in the classroom with apple cider and donuts, games and scary stories.  Then we’d rush home and try to focus on homework, if any teacher was tough enough to assign any!  My mother always tried to feed us a healthy dinner before we rushed out the door to meet up with our siblings and friends as we marched from door to door reciting “Trick or Treat!” in unison as we rang numerous doorbells.  I think part of the excitement was being outside after dark on a school night, along with everyone else in the neighborhood.  Some people decorated their house with lights and played scary music; some answered their door in costumes. One year my little sister was so frightened by the “monster” who roared as he opened his door, that she threw her bag of candy in the air and ran all the way home screaming in fright.

As we got older, we didn’t go Trick or Treating anymore, but then there were costume parties to attend, and the costume planning stakes were raised, each of us trying to be more clever than the next.

The world is shrinking, as we see in our everyday lives.  Students, teachers, administrators and other members of the Penn community as well as our neighborhood “at home” come from around the world, all religions and cultures.   I’m sure there are some who wonder what in the world this day is all about.   We see the news stories of adults who have forgotten the good will with which this holiday should be treated.  We see some of our acquaintances making poor choices in their costumes and behavior.   In trying to be clever, they are actually insulting a group of people or a sad situation.  They should have stopped just a moment to think of this as they decided what costume to create.

We should all invite that little voice in our head to give us guidance every day in what we’re saying, doing or masquerading as, with our friends, families, colleagues at work, neighbors, and others with whom we interact.

So go out tomorrow and have fun on this special evening of laughter, frivolity and scary stories;  enjoy the parties, the costumes, and the parades, but keep it in good taste and be kind to those around you.

Trick or Treat.
Trick or Treat.
Give me something good to eat!

(And always remember to say “Thank You!”)

Author: J. Michael DeAngelis

J. Michael DeAngelis is the Information Specialist in Career Services and Editor-at-Large of this blog. He is also a professional playwright and actor.