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What does Halloween mean to you?

by Gabriel L. Ouzounian

October 31, 2012

Most holidays have greater meaning than they let on.

Thanksgiving once had roots in Protestantism, at least in the United States, and was a way to give thanks for a plentiful harvest before the winter months arrived. Christmas has been moved around so much and changed that most cultures and faiths celebrate it regardless of it's origins in Christianity and the same can be said about Easter, (Saint) Valentine's day and Saint Patrick's Day. These days almost always have different meaning to those in different generation, not just as an introductory tool but from a maturity standpoint.

Christmas can mean getting a present, or getting to see that distant relative you like but never visit. Easter can be about finding eggs in grass, or reflecting on your faith and giving thanks. Thanksgiving can be all about the dessert, or all about the stuffing.

But Halloween, or New Hallows Eve, is a bit of an outlier. It likely stems from harvest festivals and festivals honoring the dead before the so-called "dark" time of the year, but this is one that does not have religious overtones or any kind of importance set on sustenance because lets face it - hunger can be solved by a five minute journey to the grocery store or a fast food joint.

So is Halloween just for the kids? No, it's not. But why?

We here at The Review are fortunate to have a plethora of perspectives in-house. Here I am, a 25-year-old, who enjoys Halloween. My co-worker and Review Staff Writer Lance Farrell is a 44-year-old who was raised without celebrating Halloween, but here he is, a full-grown man who enjoys the 31st of October. Jody Osborn, our lovable office manager represents the elders in Orion who like Halloween and three kids from the township and village share their favorite parts of the holiday.

When Jody was young, they didn't always have store bought candy ready for the kids. Instead, cookies and home-made candy were common.

Now, every year, Osborn and her husband decorate the lawn with a cemetery, sit outside with a bowl of candy and a table to watch the kids go by.

"I like it because everyone is in a good mood, especially if the weather is nice," said Osborn. "You get to see neighbors and the kids just love all the scary stuff. Last year, three or four of our neighbors got together and met at one garage and everyone brought a dish like nachos, chili, ribs and mulled wine. In this weather everyone is working and it's not as good for the outdoors stuff, so we got together and had a potluck. We put out a portable fire pit to keep warm."

For Lance Farrell, the holiday didn't start until he was older. When he was young, he and his family did not participate in the holiday due to beliefs held by his father. Because of this, he has an "outsider-looking-in" perspective on the holiday. Once he left home and met his wife, that all changed and today the holiday represents bonding and reflection.

"It always looked fun - the kids dressing up, getting candy, pumpkin carving - but we were not allowed because of my dad's religious beliefs," he said. "I didn't really participate until I met my wife (Clarkston News Staff Writer Mary Keck) and when we started dating it was a tradition she was familiar and comfortable with. I started taking part and really grew to like it, pumpkin carving especially. One of the cool things we did was we found a pumpkin that was kind of conjoined, so we carved it in such a way that one part was looking at the other and the other one was looking away scared. It really helped us bond and grow closer.

"I like it because of what it shows us about life. It shows us death is part of life, it reminds me of mortality. It's also just a lot of fun."

Of course this holiday does focus on children, and one 12-year-old Orion resident is ready for the 31st already. Kailey Carrier is going as the Mad Hatter, albeit a girl version with more pinks and purples than the recent movie depicts. While her favorite costume ever was a vampire when she was 10, she's still looking forward to getting her hands on the prizes of trick or treating.

"I like Halloween because it's fun to see all the other fun costumes," she said. "You also get candy. I like getting Sweet Tarts and Twix the most."

Seven-year-old Grace Meyers, daughter of the Lake Orion Police Department's Chris Meyers, also liked getting dressed up and said she wants to beat her record from 2011.

"I got like 100 pieces last year but I want to get more this year," she said. "I'm going as a witch this year, but I don't know why. I just kind of wanted to go as a witch."

Her older brother Calvin, 11, will be going as a zombie hunter because the costume looked cool. While the candy remains important to him, he said he enjoys the holiday more for going out with your friends.

As for me, it may seem silly, but it's an excuse to dress up as something cool. I find myself admiring the styles from the seafarers of the 1700s and the well dressed cowboys from the late 19th century. I'm the kind of person that doesn't mind dressing up and looking sharp and if there's a little flair involved all the better. Last year I went as a privateer (not a pirate, not a sailor) complete with pistol and pocket watch.

Of course there is also the attractions of Halloween parties and I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy going to them, but some of the best times I can remember involved a more recent tradition - sitting in a driveway and getting in the Halloween spirit for visiting trick or treaters. Besides that, good drinks, good company and good conversation are pretty hard to beat and are the primary reason I like Halloween.

But that's pretty much every holiday isn't it?