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Published Oct. 31, 2008

Run but Halloween is right behind you - column, Oct. 24

I'm one of these baby boomers who can't let it go, because my Halloweens are enjoyable. My daughter is 28, and Halloween, as everyone who knows her knows, is her favorite holiday.

I guess we like it because we ignore what is going on today, and look back 30 or 40 years to when I was young, and Halloween was a sprightly combination of Halloween and Harvest. That's the way I celebrated Halloween up North for our daughter, which is why she likes it. We carved a pumpkin - just one pumpkin - and we baked pumpkin- and moon- and cat-shaped sugar cookies and decorated them elaborately. We made the corn stalks from the garden (if there were any) into a little corn shock for beside the front door, and hung a few ears of brightly colored Indian corn from a nail on the front door to welcome autumn. Then we eagerly awaited trick or treat.

Our daughter would go "begging" with friends in a homemade costume, until she was 15.

Halloween has very old antecedents that are lost in the mists of time. I am not religious, so what religious people say about it may or may not be true. They don't seem very scholarly people, most of them, so I doubt they really know anything about Halloween. What they want, in any event, makes no difference to me.

The current ghoulish emphasis in Halloween decorations and costumes makes no difference to me either. That comes from Hollywood, an influence I really ignore. Nobody is making you buy plastic skulls, skeletons or grave markers, or forcing you to dress up your child as a dead person. You do those things, and you allow these things to influence your thinking about Halloween, as a choice.

I always monitored my daughter's candy haul, which was small in any event. The holiday was the important thing to her, not the treats. I made sure the tooth brushing was frequent and thorough. I was never fooled by the ostensible "healthy" aspect of raisins. They have just as much sugar as candy, and they stick to the teeth to boot, no matter what some pediatric dentist may think.

I think you need to lighten up and accentuate the positive. Things are bad right now - don't kick all the fun out of what can be a fun and fanciful holiday for yourself. Curl up with some cinnamon tea and read The Headless Horseman by Washington Irving. Surprise. You've enjoyed Halloween.

Robyn Tonkin, South Tampa