''Yikes,'' I said, as I turned the corner of an aisle in a local supermarket.
I ran face to face into a full-length witch's costume.
Scary? You bet! I was taken aback by the volume of ''creepy'' stuff filling the shelves, especially so early in the season.
I've witnessed the rapid rise of interest in Halloween over the past several years, and judging by the lights and home decorations just in my neighborhood, I wonder if this ''celebration'' may eventually override Christmas.
I don't know about you, but that scares me - no pun intended. I'm not necessarily referring to the ''trick or treat'' aspect, which has its own problems; nor am I opposing some of the fun aspects of family or school gatherings. But in our beloved country, where the Bible and morality are increasingly ignored, I shutter to see the rising influences of a pagan holiday.
Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, although commercialized, have venerated our Christian heritage. Halloween, however, under the mask of innocent pleasure, has succeeded in popularizing a once forbidden descent into the dark, demonic underworld.
One writer traces its origin to the age-old Celtic ceremony honoring their dead ancestors, or ''the day of the dead.'' It was the time of the year when the spiritual and material worlds touched momentarily, producing a ''greater potential ... for magical creation.'' Frankly, that kind of thinking smacks of witchcraft.
But who am I to throw a wet blanket on such a popular holiday? If people want to be scared out their wits, so be it. I get the same effect without the costumes just by reading the daily news. Our world is in catastrophic turmoil, along with the ongoing reports of folks being attacked, raped and killed right here in the Valley.
Our houses are already ''haunted'' with conflict and stress, trying to seek the brighter side of life. I question the need to watch another rerun of ''The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,'' when we constantly witness a barrage of blood-curdling horror stories. Evidently, there must be some distorted pleasure gained by being ''scared to death.''
Of course, we can't forget the increasing number of adults who use this time to party, imbibing on the new trend of Halloween elixirs. Then there's the whole scene of costumes, attempting to mask their identity. Fantasy reigns, for there's an actor in all of us, desiring to portray someone else. Surely, that's what makes the party fantastic, not to mention the tremendous money that's made by the whole Halloween industry.
But this thing of purposely scaring little kids really bugs me. They are fearful to begin with; some with extensive emotional problems by just dealing with daily life. Why would parents want to deliberately expose their children to ''artificial'' fear, when there's enough in this world already to shock them silly?
On the contrary, is there not a desperate need to strengthen the peace and stability of the family structure?
Maybe we need to reclaim the true significance of Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, resisting anything that would detract from their message. With the surge of interest in witches, goblins and vampires in our public schools, I wonder if the average student knows the real meaning of Thanksgiving; could he distinguish a ''pilgrim'' from an astronaut?
Our fallen society is riddled with frightful realities. Young people, who should be living with purpose and contentment, are increasingly prone to mental disorder and suicide. These pagan masquerade fantasies can only further the ongoing epidemic of drug and alcohol abuse, along with sexual promiscuity. Apart from a return to wholesome, moral and loving family relationships, we can only expect a new generation of ''monsters'' and ''walking zombies.'' Indeed, this would be a horrible ''trick,'' rather than a ''treat.''
Finnigan is a Howland resident. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.