Halloween, quite honestly, is not what it was when I was a kid. Back then, you wore a homemade costume, or if your parents had some extra money to throw around, a store bough one, made from what appeared to be the same cheap material that they utilize when making disposable table cloths. The plastic table cloth was tailored to mostly fit a kid, and had prints and patterns to look like a superhero or cartoon character or something. Then there was a hard, plastic mask that was held on with the weakest rubber bands that could be found. The rubber band broke, forcing you to hold the thing up to your face, but it would always scratch your face before the rubber band broke. These masks, of course, had two teeny eye sockets, which were not really handy if you wore glasses, like I do. I have been wearing glasses since I was two years old. So, I would leave the glasses at home and wear the mask, which was fine-I can do most anything without my glasses so long as I do not have to read. Some house would offer us a bowl to choose whatever we wanted from an assortment of candy.
-What did you pick?" my sister would ask me.
-I have no idea. It has a brown wrapper. It could be anything." Inevitably, I would end up with way too many dark chocolate Hershey and not enough milk chocolate. We were sent into the night, in gangs, while our own parents remained home to pass out candy to other kids. Very often it would be a brisk evening with a cold breeze swirling leaves through the streets. Parents didn't care that we would be running from house to house in an effort to get as much candy as possible; so thick clothes, very often cotton, would be worn under the costume to protect us from the elements. On a cloudless night, you got as wet as you would it if were raining, as sweat could not escape the cotton, let alone the plastic costume.
Costumes are now much more sophisticated, and are not torn in shreds by the end of the night. This may also be due to the fact that kids now ride in a minivan from house to house, their parents driving them, and they then emerge from the vehicle at each stop, make a quick trip to the door, jump back into the family van, and slam the sliding side door shut, like the A-Team on a mission.
As a pastor, I participate in community events and one pastor in town decided to have a more religious costume party for the kids, and mandated that they all dress as Bible characters. As you might expect, dozens of kids arrived, all wearing a bathrobe, walking in sandals and carrying a stick. Joseph looked like David and any other male character. Ruth looked like Martha and every other woman in the Bible. The kids were less than pleased. The event was held in a public building, but the kids belonged to every church in town.
-What's wrong?" I asked a little United Methodist kid, one that attended the church where I work.
-I had a really cool costume, but I am not allowed to wear it."
"h yeah?" I asked, -What was it?"
" Power Ranger."
-I see," I said, knowing the cartoon from when my stepson was younger, "ell, you and your mom go get it and if anyone asks, you tell them that you are the armor of God from the book of Ephesians."
Naturally, upon his return, the other kids were jealous. They all quickly learned that I had sent the kid home to get his new costume and asked me for advice.
"es, you can be a skeleton. You tell everyone that you are the rattling bones in Ezekiel." I said to one kid.
"h yeah, a ghost is fine. You are the ghost of Samuel if anyone asks," I told another.
" witch?" I asked one girl who had some sort of Disney witch costume. "ure, you are the witch of Endor that summoned the ghost of Samuel. Just hang out close to the ghost." By the time the pastor who mandated that the kids wear Bible character costumes arrived, all the United Methodist kids had gone home and changed into their original costumes. Some of the other kids had done so as well."
-I have been talking to these kids, and they really know some esoteric parts of the Bible," the pastor said to me, "ike the witch of Endor. I had to look that one up, I thought the kid was making it up."
"h," I said, "Yeah. The kid with the ghost makes a good match for the witch."
"our church's kids seem to know the scriptures very well," he looked at me in the same way that Librarians used to look at me for talking in the library.
"e take Sunday school very seriously," I lied to him. As if he were a librarian.
Anyway, I am amazed at how many adults wear costumes now. Last year, I was invited by my wife, Renee, to go to what was advertised to me?by her?as an autumn cookout. It was held at the house of some friends of ours.
-I am hunting that day," I said, -It is a Saturday."
"o problem," she said, just come to the house straight from hunting and eat and then you can go."
-In my hunting boots and stuff?
"es," she said, "efinitely."
I arrived at dark with a few rabbits in the truck and two beagles in the dog box.
"h," My wife met me at the truck, "here is your leash?"
-In the truck."
-What are you wearing?" I asked, "hose shoes are very red."
-I know," she said.
"ait a minute?"
-I am Dorothy," she said, "rom the Wizard of Oz?
-What is going?"
"his is a costume party," she said, "nd I knew you wouldn't come if you knew that."
"o," she said, -If anyone asks, you are an appalachian mountain man." She sounded like me with the kids.
-I am wearing a costume, is that what you think?"
"ah. You re an Appalachian mountain man in real life too. Just eat."
"ood grief," I said.
"o, you are not Charlie Brown, unless you want to get a beagle out of the truck to be snoopy. So, go with mountain man."
-I am not going to like this."
"ou are already a big hit," she said.
-I brought that big pot of rabbit stew that we put in the crockpot this morning. It is very popular. It was a bring a dish to share party."
Here is the thing, we were in town. I am talking the burbs. Suburbs. Cul de sac country. Cookie cutter houses, the whole nine yards. These were people that had either (1) never hunted or (2) had not hunted in many years. Surprisingly, some were very interested in talking to me about going rabbit hunting and maybe getting a dog. The one guy was a runner, and he told me about a spot with rabbits that became a new hunting location for me. I have to admit, that those people, interested in local and sustainable food, were very interested in hunting. The anti-hunters are never going to come along with the values that you and I hold dear, but there are a great many people who do not have strong feelings about the matter that can become allies for hunting. A little rabbit stew or pheasant under glass could go a long way to making a difference. Some people may become hunters and others will eat at out tables and help support out lifestyle afield. My parents would have never paid for a costume as expensive as that one. Filson brush pants, with Le Chameau Rubber boots and a leather dog lead with a French snap would have made for one very expensive costume, but they are my favorite hunting clothes. And I left the strap hunting vest and the SXS A.H. Fox in the truck, let alone the hunting dogs.
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