Letters to the editor of the Boston Globe Magazine

Readers write in about celebrating Halloween, giving gifts, saving a church, and more.

On Halloween, Past and Present

Steve Almond’s article (“Confessions of a Halloween Hypocrite,” October 13) is so right on. We have turned Halloween into another parent- and community-controlled event. Now, through helicopter parenting and fear, we program every move.


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I was a 1960s trick-or-treater. Baby boomers in huge numbers were out in full force. Streets were far less busy with fewer automobiles, especially at night. All sorts of costumes could be seen, both store-bought and homemade. I learned in the later years to use a pillow case instead of a paper bag because it could hold more candy and not break. Some kids used flashlights; most did not. We started about 7 p.m. because mom said so and as we got older we would stay out ’til 9:30 — and one time ’til 10 p.m., but by then most porch lights were off. The candy was later stored in our bedroom closets for future snacking. Fun memories.


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Like everything for kids now, Mommy and Daddy have to be involved. This does not let kids develop their own independence. The thrill was being out with the other kids, in the dark, running from house to house — no parents involved. I am beginning to wonder if parents have lives of their own anymore and are living vicariously through their kids, never mind if they are spoiling all the fun.

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Taking your kids candy. What’s wrong with you!? My kids would revolt if I tried that.


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Tokens of Appreciation

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[The person who wrote to Miss Conduct] (“Re: Gifting. How to Give Presents Without Creating a Sense of Obligation,” October 13) sounds like a thoughtful, kind, and generous person. How about you send these [Boston-themed gifts] out to people on a “wicked Boston” date each year, like Patriots Day, or Evacuation Day, or Bunker Hill Day? And be totally explicit with people: I don’t want you to feel in any way like this gift creates any expectation of obligation, I just want to say thank you for your generosity.


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Love all this! I like to give spices from Christina’s Spice & Specialty Foods in Cambridge, or Ed Hyder’s Mediterranean Marketplace in Worcester. Another Worcester fave — special Polar Seltzer flavors. And for the best [local] gift of all — Bully Boy Distillers liquors.


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A Plan to Save a Fall River Church

I was pleased to read Neil Swidey’s fascinating account of the heroic efforts of the St. Anne’s Preservation Society (“The Miracle of St. Anne’s,” October 13). I spent two years helping a similar effort in Worcester to save the magnificent Notre Dame des Canadiens Church from a senseless demolition (the site is now an empty lot). We certainly could have used lawyer Brody Hale on behalf of our efforts.

Jeff Cronin

Jamaica Plain

As a native of New Bedford, I’ve been an admirer of St. Anne’s since I was a boy — I saw it every time I returned to New Bedford via the Braga Bridge. As a journalist and a practicing Catholic, I admired how Swidey described the arrogance and criminality in my church, yet still recognized the sanctity of the faith for many of us, which transcends its flawed leadership. This is seen in the efforts of the parishioners; sacred spaced is extremely important to us.

Brian Healy

Kensington, Maryland


As I read Swidey’s heartfelt article on St. Anne’s, I thought of the churches my family and I have visited across Europe. Supposedly, the church-going population there has plummeted, although I felt there was pretty good attendance whenever we happened to come across a service. I think nearly everyone in Europe recognizes the importance of maintaining their lovely religious buildings. [Some funding] should be available in the United States for churches that have aesthetically valuable elements.

Andy Oram


Although our family was Irish and didn’t attend St. Anne’s on a regular basis (because it was “the French church”), it was, and still is, a centerpiece in Fall River. You have to really respect the efforts of the lay group that is working to restore the church as a haven for those who believe and/or need a place for comfort and inspiration. The world needs such a refuge.


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The community aspect of the church is just as important as the religious artifacts and the sacraments. Those are important too — but not the totality of the church.


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The Catholic church impacted me profoundly: Catholic elementary school, a long-term altar boy, Jesuit high school, my first job at my parish rectory, followed by Catholic college and graduate school. I even work at a major Catholic university today. Other than my parents, nothing influenced my life as much as the church. But now, I have been detached from it for many years. Where I once saw an active, vibrant institution committed to those in the greatest need and social justice, today I see only a shell organization in a death spiral with no positive signs in sight. With all due respect to Father Deston, God is as present in Saint Anne’s today as he’s ever been.


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If Pope Francis can hold a Synod right now considering ordaining lay married men to serve as priests in the underserved Amazon region, why can that not be a model for any underserved parish here in the United States when there are no ordained priests available? There are plenty of good lay people at St. Anne’s in Fall River who would make wonderful clergy, both male and female. The old medieval model of a king (pope) and his princes (cardinals) that is collapsing in Rome needs to be replaced with a modern American Catholic Church that is of the people, by the people, and for the people.


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For those who say that “He is not there” because the sacrament is not present amongst those congregants who gather to pray and reflect upon the Lord, I remind them of what he said during his time upon this earth: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”


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When the Catholic Church stops forcing men to choose between having a family and being a priest; when it stops demonizing “non-traditional” gender and sexual identity; when it stops insisting that the priesthood is only for men — only then will it, maybe, be able to attract more people (notice I said “people”!) to seminary. But it may be too late already.


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It is sad that so many Catholics have lost their faith because of misguided priests, church organization, and the hierarchy that relishes their leadership roles. After all is said and done, the churches and priests are physical constructs created by humans. Human beings with all their flaws. Don’t let human frailties of some priests (who perhaps should not have been priests in the first place) and some bishops steal your faith. After over 70 years as a Catholic, I refuse to let the blunders, mismanagement, and bad behavior of the hierarchy destroy 2,000 years of history and teachings of the church. Faith needs to be in your heart, along with the confidence that the good teachings you have learned will prevail.


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Seeing Minuses in 55-Plus Communities

These oversize homes for retirees (On the Block: “Welcome to Boomerville,” October 27) are insane — the first house could be broken into two, the second one into three. We downsized from a very modest 1,450 square feet to 920 and it suits us fine. Taxes on these will eat into one’s Social Security and 401(k).


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I know developers need to make a profit, that buildable land is limited, etc. However, having 55-plus housing that has multiple levels doesn’t make sense from a long-term perspective. At some point, most people will not be able to climb stairs safely on their own. They will have spent money on real estate that they can no longer use. That office on the second floor? Don’t plan on using it. Sauna in the basement? Same. A multistory building with elevator access is better for the environment and can have single-level living.


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Delving into a Dinner Date

Kudos to Alex and Jack (Dinner with Cupid, October 27) for giving it another chance [on a second date], to see what might develop! (Maybe they’ve been reading the comments and realize the goal isn’t instant “spark.”)


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This was the inverse of the typical theme of this column: “The date was amazing, but I have zero interest in going on another.”


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There’s something ineffable that was communicated here. This was an incredibly successful first date! Nervous indecision; honest insecurity; sincere expectation. Alex and Jack: Don’t think about it. Don’t analyze it. Just go out again. Please!


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