Editor’s Note: Our fourth quarter visiting editors share views on a topic of their choice.
Pamela J. Clemensen
Oct.31 is a few days away, but trick or treat candy and decor have been on store shelves long in advance. Americans spend about $6billion on Halloween, our second largest commercial holiday, which originated centuries ago with the Celts as “All Souls’ Day” to honor the deceased.
Then: It is fun (but “scary”) to recall Halloweens of yesteryear. “Trick or treat” was a night for buoyant door-to-door jaunts, perhaps in crepe paper costumes and masks from the local Woolworths. Our parents did not have to accompany us because we knew the neighbors. A highlight was when we were invited into homes for “costume viewing” and cider. We relished treats of homemade goodies such as popcorn balls, candied apples, and full size candy bars.
Now: Safety and common sense dictate that parents accompany their children. We no longer know all the neighbors, nor do we trust them like we did in past times. Costumes of flame retardant material are advised. Edible treats must be commercially bought and have shrunk to “snack size.” Mindful parents inspect bagged goodies before allowing their children to indulge.
We have become cognizant of the issues of sugar, junk food and obesity. Leftover candy is a temptation. Imaginative folks dole out alternative treats, such as stickers, erasers, pencils, pennies, nickels, etc. Even then, the “loot” should be checked out by a scrutinizing adult. Our blithe spirit has been justifiably curtailed with our awareness and caution of “now.”
What will my costume be this year? If I keep eating the candy I bought early, I may wear a belt and go as the equator. However, there is a ghost of a chance I may just turn out the lights and not answer the doorbell.
As another election draws near, I am reminded that President George Washington warned us about political parties in his farewell address – “However (political parties) may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterward the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
Too often elections are decided not by issues, truthful debate, and honest representation of one’s positions or voting records but more on spin, sound bites, and campaign members willing to do the dirty work attacking one’s opponent if necessary but mostly on one of two letters – the “D” or “R” behind a candidate’s name.
Most Ds and Rs voters subscribe to the notion of “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with facts!” In my family, we call a truce during the holidays.
The more civil members of the Ds and Rs must not write well because they leave that to the angrier members of their party. In Letters to the Editor it is difficult to find well thought-out political arguments rather than going directly to hateful name calling, attacking philosophy and mean-spirited redirect .
Once upon a time, serving in Washington was considered a civic duty. Most enter the Beltway wanting to make a difference but once there they change. Power is very seductive. They know we re-elect over 90percent of incumbents so they risk nothing. The Ds and the Rs talk trash for the cameras and go have a beer afterward. In the meantime they pass laws that they exempt themselves from. Most retire millionaires.
President Washington was right and we better start paying better attention!
Clemensen, of Modesto, is a retired educator. Glidewell, of Modesto, is a retired businessman.