A part of it must come back, as so many things seem to, to the fact that I grew up in a fairly rural part of Alaska. This morning it was -2 F (negative, as in below 0) as I drove Matt to work. We aren't going to be seeing anyone trick-or-treating in miniskirts here. I grew up in a neighborhood with few kids, and we never really encountered any overly gory costumes. Most people don't do creepy (or any) exterior decorating here, because what's the point if it's all just going to get covered in snow? We and our neighbors did carve pumpkins, but setting out your jack-o'lanterns for longer than a few hours on Halloween night was inviting disaster: I can't tell you how many years we woke up to the THUMP, THUMP, THUMP of moose rolling our pumpkins off the front porch to eat them.
No, really. My brother probably still holds a grudge that I set his favorite cap on a jack-o'lantern one night, and we found it the next morning covered in frozen moose slobber amid the remains of a pumpkin.
Where we live, houses are far enough apart that--especially with our typical late-October weather--kids don't wander door-to-door on their own: mom or dad drives around the neighborhood with a passel of kids in the car, and at least at our house, Mom was always done after maybe two streets of houses and that's just how it was. We all dumped our haul in the middle of the living room floor, bargaining with each other for our favorites, and then squirreled our candy away in the hopes that Dad wouldn't find it and it'd have a chance of lasting until Christmas.
(We also had a rule, as long as I can remember, that we only ever ate candy on holidays and Saturdays. So we could have a piece of candy on Halloween night, and then it got hidden in the antique coffee pots above the kitchen cabinets until the next Saturday, when we'd hem and haw for easily 15 minutes over which one piece we wanted to have that day. My younger siblings are pretty darn good at both hiding their candy from Dad/each other, and at making it last; I don't think that any of them have ever run out of candy between Halloween and Christmas, and Lent definitely helps stretch their Christmas candy until Easter. Rather than being an occasion of sugar overload and gluttony, Halloween was really an exercise in resource management.)
So, evil? I just don't see it. My experience of Halloween has always been lighthearted fun, and since we now live in the same environment in which I had that experience growing up, I don't have any qualms about introducing Little Bear to the celebration of Halloween I knew as a kid.
I'm sure it's different in other places. When we lived in town the first few years of our marriage, there were certainly a few houses in our neighborhood that went overboard on the creepy decorating; we usually went over to my parents' house on Halloween night, so I don't know what the ratio of fine-to-objectionable costumes might have been (we were in a suburban neighborhood just a couple of blocks from an elementary school, and there were a lot of kids in the area). But does the fact that some people try to make Halloween exclusively about horror mean that Catholics should refrain from celebrating Halloween?
This bit from an interview with Fr. Steve Grunow from Word on Fire Ministries jumped out at me:
You can find the whole interview here: It's Time for Catholics to Embrace Halloween
"The reticence and fear that characterizes Catholics..." Ouch. Fr. Grunow isn't saying here that Catholics have to be actively engaged in every aspect of modern Halloween celebrations, certainly. But he is challenging parents to "reclaim" the Catholic roots of today's Halloween observances, reconnecting them to the context of Christ's victory over evil.
What does your family do on Halloween?
Here are some more Catholic perspectives on Halloween I appreciated:
Halloween: The Real Story
How to think about Halloween as a Catholic
Don't Bubble-Wrap Your Kids