Tuesday, November 01, 2011

My Halloween

For the last couple of days, I have been preparing myself to write a blog post about how much I hate Halloween and for exactly which reasons, but I kept bumping into things about this holiday that I actually enjoyed and this caused a lot of introspection.  I know, it seems silly to be introspective about Halloween, but I couldn't help myself --partly because I over analyze everything, but mostly because I have been thinking a lot about my childhood Halloweens and how I loved them, and what has happened between then and now to make me hate the holiday.

I think for me, it boils down to one principle:  I like things to be simple.  The more we over complicate things, the less I am interested.

There are a few things that stick out in my mind from my childhood Halloweens:  First and foremost was the pumpkins.  I can't speak for my brothers, but for me the main event was pumpkin carving.  I clearly remember looking forward to this all month.  We didn't travel to some overly cutesy pumpkin patch to get our pumpkins, we went to the grocery store.  And we loved it.  We picked out our preferred pumpkin, sometimes looking for the perfectly symmetrical one, and sometimes we favored a more sinister one covered in lumps and scars.  We took them home, and a few days before Halloween we sat around while my Dad carved them for us (this was when we were too little to handle knives).  We didn't have any lame-o pansy safety saw, my dad used a big kitchen knife like a real man.  He would ask what kind of face we wanted, and the choices were something to the tune of "funny" or "scary" etc.  We didn't ever feel the need to buy an intricate pattern and punch holes in or finely carve profoundly artistic shapes into our pumpkins, our designs were unpolished and imperfect and we loved them.

Our costumes were mixes of hand me down costume pieces and creatively used clothing, and occasionally my parents would buy us one or two accessories to accompany them.  If I did ever ask for a fully assembled costume from the store, I don't remember ever getting one.

As far as Halloween decor went, my Mom commissioned us kids to make our own using construction paper and crayons, and we were proud to see them hang in the windows.  I do remember one or two store bought flat paper skeletons with hinges on the joints that we taped to the door or windows.  As we got older, my parents purchased a few more elaborate yard decor items, but for the most part it was pretty scant.

When the time came for trick or treating, we went out among our neighbors and saw our friends along the way.  Our parents didn't drive us to a more affluent neighborhood to get bigger candy bars, we went as far as we could walk and back.  When we got home, we would sort out our candy in little piles and trade with each other.

These are the things I love about Halloween.  Everything on top of this feels very forced to me, I sometimes feel like we as a generation constantly live in a state of gilding the social lily so to speak.  We must overdo things in order to enjoy them. 

The other part of my hatred for Halloween comes from just being an adult.  Halloween is a holiday for kids, let's face it.  As an adult, I resent the fact that my kids whine about having to have a brand new costume every year, I resent having to deal with the makeup and hair that must be done and then undone countless amounts of times because celebrating it once isn't enough these days, we have to have party after party between church and school and then of course the "real Halloween."  And then there is the issue of the candy.  Now that I am an adult, I see candy for what it really is-- unhealthy.  I have never been comfortable feeding my kids candy in any amount.  Diabetes runs in both my family and my husband's family, and I take it very seriously so it's hard not to cringe when I see so much candy being tossed around during Halloween.  Again, it goes back to the over celebrating.  It's not just the load of candy they get on the night of Halloween, its the bags and bags of candy before from every corner of their social lives. Plus the cookies and donuts and pumpkin deserts-- it's enough to make me puke.  Most of my kids' candy will get thrown away which then makes me ponder the colossal waste of money that this holiday is.  To that end, I try to hand out other things like stickers and pencils and rubber bats for the trick or treaters.

So as you can see, I have conflicted feelings about Halloween.  But maybe it just pertains to all holidays in general, I just want to keep them simple.  No more over celebrating.  I did end up having a lot of fun last night just walking with my kids to each house with friends and their kids and enjoying all of the other adorable kids.  It was the most I've enjoyed Halloween all month.

1 comment:

Jill said...

In a couple of years we will start Trick-or-Treating for canned goods. We have a friend who does this with her kids and has great results each year. Her youngest is 9 so it works well. It seems like the perfect way to avoid some of the sugar coma during October.