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Halloween is a huge letdown this year.--

I love modern Halloween traditions. I love the sweet smell of autumn, the chilly air and the camaraderie of friends around a roaring campfire. --------

I love hayrides, Honeycrisp apples and the clever, hilarious costumes my left-brained accountant and engineer friends come up with. Why do CPAs always create the wittiest costumes?------

But Halloween is awfully anticlimactic this year.--

Most Halloween events are canceled by state and local governments. Trick-or-treating is banned in many communities. Even if an apple-bobbing contest were held, mandatory masks would eliminate any hope of anyone winning.--

I loved the childhood mischievousness of Devil s Night, when rowdy kids might soap some car windows or toss a harmless toilet paper stream into a brilliant orange oak tree - but such pranks pale in comparison to the real, nightly destruction we ve seen in our cities streets for months.--

Halloween traditionally is a time to celebrate the harvest, but our harvest is dismal this year: Economic shutdowns have hurt millions of people and small businesses - with no relief or long-term stability in sight.

And our people, and by extension our politics, are more divided than ever.--

Halloween is supposed to be the peak time to savor the last warm autumn air and prepare for the bitter cold just ahead - but this year, we still haven t recovered from the disruptive misery that has been dogging us since March.--

The horror movies that have become staples of the Halloween season aren t capturing our attention much anymore - because they aren t half as compelling as our daily reality.----

Hey, Jason! Trust me on this: You d be a way scarier movie character if you DIDN T wear a hockey mask. Rather than a machete, all you need to do is sneeze on your victims. ------

To make matters more unsettling, we re just days away from a presidential election that, no matter the result, is going to agitate half the population as it elates the other half.----

Though it may seem that our uncivil, vitriolic discourse can t possibly get worse, nobody will be surprised if it does get more chaotic, violent and out of hand.--

Though we haven t begun to fully absorb or resolve the challenges our disruptions have caused - though we won t get to enjoy a little autumn calm to help us prepare for the brutal winter months ahead - we re already being warned that covid-19 is surging yet again.--

Some government authorities, who are enjoying absolute power over us a little too absolutely, are telling us to cancel Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings. It will be good for us, they tell us.--

Few of them tell us about--the other side of these endless shutdowns and disruptions--for people with mental health issues, people with drug and alcohol addictions, and people who aren t getting out to seek needed medical care.--

What to do? I recommend re-watching the 1994 Stephen King TV miniseries, The Stand. It s about a lethal, highly contagious strain of influenza that is accidentally released to the public.----

It was scary when it first aired. Now it s an adorable comedy.--

And that s one more reason why Halloween is a huge letdown this year.--

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Copyright 2020 Tom Purcell. Tom Purcell, author of "Misadventures of a 1970's Childhood," a humorous memoir available at amazon.com, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. For info on using this column in your publication or website, contact [email protected] or call (805) 969-2829. Send comments to Tom at [email protected]Purcell.com.