I’m not sure if there’s anything more hotly contested at the moment than what our kids should be getting up to on October 31st.
All of a sudden it seems, come October our grocery stores are full of grinning pumpkins, black pointy hats and cobwebs. Schools and daycares are organising Halloween dress-up days and lolly hunts. More than one homeowner has been caught out on Halloween with a bunch of kids at their front door and nothing but a few wrinkly oranges rolling around in the fridge (Yes, I admit it, that was me. The kids, bless their little hearts, took the oranges with a polite thankyou.)
The detractors are many. "This is 'Straya!" they holler. "Down with Consumerism!"
And look, we get that. Australians by nature have a bit of a rebellious streak, a long history of doing things our own way down under.
After all, this is the land of the boomerang, the Hills Hoist and the beer-can regatta.
Why should Halloween be any exception to this proud tradition of innovation?
When you think about it, there’s plenty about Halloween that fits in with the values that we hold dear.
There's the sense of community. It's no secret that our front fences have become increasingly high and thick, dividing streetscapes into 'mine' and 'theirs'. Halloween offers an opportunity to come out from inside these suburban fortresses, and have-a-chat with the neighbours on the street. For many busy families, this may be one of the few times in a year that they are able to catch up with the people that live out their lives just a few doors down.
There's also the sense of fun. Not taking ourselves too seriously just might be the secret to easing the pressure of modern-day life. One thing that I've always found really special about Halloween is the way in which it involves a whole family being silly together. Lose the scary costumes if that's not fun for your crew, and replace it with something that everyone can get a giggle out of.
Lastly, but maybe most importantly, there's the opportunity for the kids to just be kids for a bit. Sometimes it seems that the free-range childhood that many of us experienced has been replaced by four walls and a bunch of screens. Well, Halloween is an opportunity to fill the streets of our towns again with the laughter of children enjoying the simple joy of running amuck outside with the kids from across the street.
As for the details, we could take or leave the cobwebs and grinning pumpkins. I think that the land responsible for the boomerang, budgie smuggler and the beer-can regatta can grab a hold of Halloween, and transform it into something uniquely...us. After all, it would be a shame to miss out on any opportunity to bring a sense of community back into our neighbourhoods.
We'd love to hear how your street is bringing back a sense of community through a unique take on Halloween. Feel free to share in the comments below.