I’ve never been head-over-heels for Halloween. As a child, dressing up and scrambling around town for candy was fun, of course, but it was nowhere near the big deal that Christmas was. Or Easter. Or, come to think of it, St. Paddy’s Day and Valentine’s Day. I would put, at most, three days’ thought into my costume – which was usually cobbled together from bits and pieces I found around our house. I can only remember one store-bought costume, this truly scary (and clammy) plastic ensemble:
Even now, nearly thirty years later, I remember the smell of that mask …. After choosing a costume, there was a class party in the afternoon, a quick dinner, and trick-or-treating. I’d bring home a bag of tooth-rotting goodness, on which I would nibble steadily until it magically disappeared around the middle of November (coincidentally, this was always about the same time my parents got tired of looking at the bag hanging on my doorknob). Some years, I’d draw a few jack-o-lanterns and stars to tape to our windows, some years I wouldn’t bother. Sometimes, we had a jack-o-lantern. I also dimly remember some store-bought cardboard decorations that came out every October until they fell apart. One year, after watching a horrible documentary about Satanists, my mother put a sign on our door declaring that our family wouldn’t be celebrating Halloween. I got razzed at school for that one, but I didn’t really miss Halloween that year. And razzing at school was nearly non-stop anyway because my father was a teacher there, I was short, I wore the most enormous red-framed glasses (we’re talking half my face behind glass), I got good grades and used big words …. This was just something new for my classmates to talk about, and they probably forgot it after I got a really bad perm that took years to grow out. Ah, highschool ….
As far as I know, the way my family did Halloween is the way everyone did Halloween back then. During the years between leaving home and having children of my own, I more-or-less ignored it. This was easy, because my friends weren’t really into it either, and neither was Ryan. When Fiona and Bridget were very little, we didn’t bother. Fiona went trick-or-treating for the first time when she was three, and her clown wig was the most exciting part for her. She didn’t notice that I tossed out about three-quarters of her candy. Over the past few years, Halloween’s made an impressive come-back in my life. I carve a jack-o-lantern every year, and happily light it on Halloween night. I eagerly help Fiona and Bridget with their costumes. Ryan takes the girls trick-or-treating, and I answer the door – and when they come home, I dole out treats to them, too. Just this morning, I did something I never thought I’d do: I enjoyed listening to “Monster Mash”. Some things, though, really rain on my feeble, low-key Halloween parade.
Why do people spend hundreds of dollars on hideous decorations? Halloween is apparently edging out Christmas when it comes to spending on trappings. But when you buy Christmas decorations, you’re buying beautiful items that your family will treasure for years. When you buy Halloween decorations, you’re buying plastic spiders, rubber severed limbs, fake tombstones. If you’re good at decorating, your house will look horrifying. If you’re not, your house will look tacky. Either way, you’ve wasted alot of money on what is, after all, one freakin’ night. Which brings me to ….
People who buy expensive costumes. Again, why? You can buy a costume for hundreds of dollars, or you can spend $20 at Walmart. You can spend even less if you’re willing to put in some time rummaging through Value Village’s vast selection. You can even forage in your storage room and junk drawer. Either way, you’ll have a fun disguise for (as I just said) one night. And, while we’re talking about costumes, let your kid wear her costume before Halloween if she wants. It’s not a wedding dress, it’s a felt tail and a pair of plastic horns.
Teenagers who don’t bother with costumes. I think it’s weird that people with deep voices or impressive cleavage still want to trick-or-treat, but I don’t mind giving them candy if they at least wear a funny hat or cut some eye holes in a sheet.
Parents who take their baby trick-or-treating. If the kid’s diet still consists mainly of milk, it’s obvious that the candy is really for the parents. Not to mention that the little one won’t get anything out of the experience, and might even nap right through it. If you must put a costume on your baby, take a picture of him and make copies for the grandparents, then let him go back to squeezing bananas through his fists and staring at the ceiling fan. If it’s candy you want, it all goes on sale November 1 – and you can get it all in one location, rather than going door-to-door and mooching it from strangers.
People who paint pumpkins. A jack-o-lantern is a traditional Halloween decoration. A carved pumpkin. Not a painted pumpkin. This isn’t Easter! Halloween is supposed to be messy and ugly. Halloween is not a time to make our front steps look like Martha has been here. I blame Pinterest for this, along with many other annoyances.
Why do so many people take their children trick-or-treating at the mall? I know we’ve all become ridiculous about safety in recent years, especially when it comes to our kids, but this is over-the-top, even by today’s standards. When trick-or-treaters are at our door, their parents are – at most – ten feet away from them. Kids who are old enough to go without their parents travel in packs. And most people are harmless – and, like me, love to see the trick-or-treaters at the door. Last year, we only had twelve kids – twelve. Because people have decided that they’d rather not risk a bit of mud (or, in parts of Canada, snow) or darkness or interaction with strangers – they’ll do their Halloweening in a well-lit, climate-controlled, tastfully decorated environment, thank you very much.
The Switch Witch. Unless you are dealing with a food allergy, this has got to be one of the biggest buzzkills any holiday has ever had to rise above …. (This title used to belong to the Elf on the Shelf. No longer.) People will actually spend $30 on this ugly little toy and her accompanying “legend”. As I said, if your child has a food allergy, I feel sorry for her – it’s sad not to be able to enjoy your Halloween loot. Go ahead and switch out some of her candy for something safer – and maybe a product like the Switch Witch will help you do that. However, if you just don’t want your kid to eat all that candy, do this rarely-attempted-but-highly-effective thing: say “no”. Simple. Quick. Not to mention that my revolutionary idea just saved you thirty bucks …. You’re welcome.
I know that this list of lame will not have everyone nodding and exclaiming “I know” – so let’s discuss. What do people do at Halloween that makes your inner monster come shambling out, ready to eat them alive? And if that’s writing bitchy blog posts about your rhinestone-studded turquoise pumpkin and your $150-costume-clad three month old, you can say that, too. I like a good interwebz throw down as much as the next blogger. Happy Halloween!