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Scary times come with cost

Thursday, the little ghouls and goblins will be walking through the neighborhoods with sticky fingers and chocolate smudged faces. There will be clowns, action figures, fairies, and monsters, and there will be wind, maybe a few raindrops and even some tired and crying babies — it’s Halloween in the city of Dunkirk 2019!

And even with the unexpected, and the mischief that is sure to be evident, what we experience on Oct. 31 is nothing compared to some of what we have lived through these past few months or what we will encounter in the next few days — that is until all the votes are tallied and the winners of this year’s elective offices are known. A scary time on all fronts. But it is Halloween, however.

It is amazing to me how much money people will spend on one night to go door to door asking for candy. It is projected that in 2019 (mind you the economy is improving, but …) Americans plan to spend $3.2 billion — that’s billion with a “B” — on costumes. And, of course, there is the cost of candy that only leads to another $2.6 billion to be spent nationwide. Just think of what that money could do if it was used for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or asthma research.

However, as we spend money on candy, costumes and Halloween decorations, I would be remiss if I didn’t share the fact that according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease. Tooth decay is five times more common than asthma, four times more common than early childhood obesity, and 20 times more common than diabetes. I understand that since this statistic comes from AAPD it may be considered biased. But think of how we could kill two birds with one stone, and how much more impactful our money could be if we were to merely keep Halloween simple with a cup of cider and a sugar donut and give the rest to medical research. With fewer Laffy Taffys and Snickers, our children might have fewer cavities, and medical research could get a hefty influx of cash.

There may have been a time when life was simpler and Halloween didn’t include much of the dangers that it does today. There may have been a time when there was more civility shown toward one another, and when our world wasn’t as vulnerable to hate and rudeness. Maybe I’m just not as adventurous as I once was, but the images of the walking dead, the blood covered faces, zombies, witches and evil clowns don’t evoke warm and fuzzy feelings for me. I am reminded of a scripture from 3 John 1:11, “Dear Friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good.” Halloween, just as this political season is a scary time.

How ironic that these two events should fall within one week of one another. The little ghouls and ghosts will eventually come down from their sugar highs, begrudgingly disrobe, brush their teeth and get tucked into their beds only to dream of the bowls of candy left in the cupboards on Halloween.

The adults, however, will still have almost a full week to endure (and some will practice) hate, discord, disruption and meanness — what many believe Halloween is all about — a time when the boundary between this world and the “next” becomes thin allowing for one to connect with the dead or what is believed by some as the spirit world where evil as well as good exist. The golden rule of “do unto others” that we teach our children will not be practiced, and insolence, rudeness, and name calling of one another will become the standard mantra of the day. It surely won’t be a sugar high, and Laffy Taffys won’t be to blame.

But alas, the leaves have begun to fall and soon our trees will once again be bare. The days of warmer weather are all but over until next year, and the stores are already showcasing Christmas trees, shiny decorations and ringing bells. The “Red Kettle” Santas will be standing outside in all kinds of weather and a new year will be just around the corner. Time moves on, even it is often fraught with real life ghouls and, thankfully a place where a few white knights and fairy God Mothers still exist.

Regardless of the political climate or Halloween in general, let us take this time to re-assess our values and address those with whom we disagree with compassion and understanding, even if we differ with their beliefs. And let us not be too greedy with our candy, this day comes but once a year, and after all dentists need to make a living too.

So, share the candy, be respectful, vote and be safe.

Have a great day.

Vicki Westling is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com

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