Hodge Podge by Charlie Hodge – HALLOWEEN


I meet the upcoming Halloween with mixed emotions.Part of me is saddened how the annual event has seemingly shifted away from the focus of a harmless, fun children’s event to a social bash for young (and even the not so young) adults.On a personal note I am quietly thrilled with the steadily declining lack of youngsters knocking at our door the past six or seven years.  It simply means more junk food and chocolate for me.I’m a chocoholic with absolutely no intention of seeking help or recovery. I freely admit it.However, Halloween sadly seems pretty much history. At least Halloween as I knew it in my childhood.I’m not sure when the downfall of the fun, family tradition really began. The crumbling likely started the same time other Canadian cultural habits such as Sunday family dinners, physically visiting relatives and friends, and the five or six-day work week started to erode. (Remember the promise of a shorter work week …?)The demise of Halloween in Canada is likely a combination of causes. Topping my list is our loss of innocence, followed by the respondent ‘rules’, and of course non-stop, nauseating commercialism.The Canadian loss of innocence began sometime in the early 1970’s with Canadian media reports of evil adults heating up pennies and encouraging trick or treating children to grab them. That shenanigan (myth or reality) was quickly followed up by other bent minds placing pins and/or razors in candies and other purported disgusting tricks. Those acts rattled the entire country.Injuries due to fireworks, soaring insurance costs of firework involved events, lawsuits, and other scenarios spawned a plethora of guidelines and rules regarding Halloween paraphernalia.Sadly, despite all the new rules, safety still remains the key concern for parents at Halloween.Perceived or not, today’s world appears to be a much more dangerous place to play innocently – and not just for children. The potential risks have increased when it comes to door to door trust and walking dark streets in costumes.I remember a different Halloween – a time of great childhood glee. We spent weeks planning and ‘helping’ make our costumes, and usually had at least one or two school parties or events.  Today many schools or other organizations can’t hold such events because of legalities, costs of insurance, food safety, or parents and others that interfere because of cultural or religious ‘reasons’.There is no one person, reason, or system causing the demise of Halloween. It’s simply a victim of social change, choice of values, and shifting lifestyles.Halloween may not be the way it was, or necessarily how we want it, but it is how we have let it become and how it is.I do know my neighbourhood has been basically dead quiet the past half dozen years with less than a handful of children showing up at our door. In fact last year no one showed up.Undaunted Tez returned from the store yesterday with a bundle of junk food to hand out, most of which I noted were mini chocolate bars and suckers. Those goodies happen to top my list of ‘happy food’. Which means, kids or no kids, I will simply have to suck it up and do my duty in seeing that any and all consumer products purchased for All Saints Day are consumed with care.It’s a tough job but someone has to consume all that chocolate – and it may as well be me. Actually I will eat all the chocolate to save my wife from having to do so. I worry about her health, of course.I consider my role as the protector and man about the house. (Teresa said I could say that by the way).


Speaking of the boss, a belated birthday wish goes out to my very best friend and sweetheart. While I dare not specify numbers I can assure readers I have made Teresa’s (Tez) life seem much longer and harder since she met me. Thankfully she not only possesses a quick wit and slightly bent sense of humor but also a great amount of tolerance, patience, and kindness. Not only has she stuck by me during harsh economic and emotional times but has also been an amazing supporter and strength considering my significant decline in health.She surely has honoured the vow of, “richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.”While I truly wish I could reverse the direction of course my life’s pathway has ahead health wise, it is comforting to know we walk it together. I love you Tez. (And will protect you from chocolate).


Someone I do not expect to see at my front door at Halloween is my dear friend Howie Meeker. Howie lives on Vancouver Island so the chance of him visiting the Okanagan at the end of October is slim.I am sure the former NHL star, Calder Trophy winner, Hockey Hall of Fame member and recent winner of the Order of Canada will likely be getting ready for a birthday bash.On November 4 Howie will be turning 93 years of age –  and a spry one at that.A true friend and mentor, I had the honour of spending an average of every second day with the man over five years and can honestly say I marveled at the man more and more each time I saw him. A true Canadian icon and hero in my book – Happy Birthday Howie.


A final reminder to mark down Nov. 3 as the United Way and John Howard Society’s unique fund raising event. Boxing For My Community. Money raised at the fabulous evening will go towards supporting men’s programs in our town. To learn more go to www.boxingforcommunity.com

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.


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