There it was, on the top shelf of the end cap at checkout 4 at Safeway last Saturday, sandwiched between the Slim Jims and the latest Cosmo, daring me to point out that it's only August 15th … Halloween Arts & Crafts, a guidebook for fun family projects.

Halloween projects!! August 15th!!!

Yes, it's nice to plan ahead and yes, craft projects take more than a day to complete. But August?!?! Isn't Halloween still on October 31st? When did Halloween become such a big deal? When will it become a 'day off of work' holiday - cause you know that's coming.

Halloween is already a Hallmark holiday. I know this because I actually get a couple of Halloween cards each year. Really. And the craft stores start stocking up on decoration and costume supplies months ahead. Paradoxically, Halloween has also become a significant adult party holiday; I know this because statistics and studies indicate that it is now the most dangerous holiday of the year for alcohol-related traffic deaths.

I remember trick-or-treating as a kid but I don’t remember if we wore costumes. I also remember a haunted house in my neighborhood. Real people lived there, two very old ladies. We thought is was a haunted house because it was old, not well cared for and appeared to be falling down. My parents would not let us knock on their door until we were old enough to not be afraid yet still young enough to trick-or-treat.

In high school, my friend Stan and I turned the tables on younger kids at his house one year. We found a sheet of blue cellophane – similar in appearance to a blue recycling bag – and connected it to a string. When a kid rang the door bell, we’d open the door, tug on the string and out popped ‘the ghost.’ Most kids probably said, “oh look, blue cellophane.” But one kid was so scared he went screaming all the way back to his parents without even taking any candy. That one kid’s reaction made it worth the effort. I bet that ‘craft’ idea isn’t even in the Halloween Arts & Crafts book.