Monday, 27 October 2008


I have decided to come clean. I am ready to admit what, I believe, is obvious to most.  I truly and simply do not enjoy Halloween. It is probably blasphemous for many of you to even silently consider this thought, given that the small children in your midst are so totally wound up in their preparations, but I am far enough removed from the "mommy needs to be supportive" mindset that I can unequivocally state my true feelings on the subject.

It is not that I have any religious objection to the day.  Years ago, I took a course with a rabbi who was firmly set against Jewish children observing a day so obviously grounded in pagan and Christian ritual. I personally never bought into this way of thinking.  I tend to view Halloween with the same lens as Valentine's Day-obviously not from my people, but so secularized over the years, that really where's the harm?  In my very orthodox-Jewish leaning area, there are far more houses that are kept dark on Halloween than are openly inviting for the Trick or Treaters. (Given that Halloween falls on a Friday this year, I am certain that there will be even fewer houses open for the kids!) No, the non-Jewish arguments simply fall flat for me.

My issues with Halloween are far less philosophical and much more practical.

Firstly, I suck at anything that remotely resembles arts and crafts. (Please recall that I am a disaster with sharp objects so any sort of customization of costumes, carving of pumpkins or decorative initiatives are usually met with copious amounts of my own blood being spilled all over the kitchen counter!!) When the boys were younger, it became mandatory that their costumes had to be formulated from already constructed items that could be found around the house or purchased very cheaply.  If that didn't work, I would get down on bended knee to the Little Bro's Ying to his Yang and beg for mercy.  She is a whiz with anything visually creative and would sometimes take pity on me and my ineptitude.  I actually think that the thought of her nephews looking like refugees from Value Village horrified her and her sense of style, so she helped when she could.  As to the carving of the pumpkins, that little job became the purvey of the Husband.  He was one of the first in the neighbourhood to procure jack-o-lantern stencils and safety gear. The boys would gather with Dad in the kitchen for the ritual cutting (sort of a brit milah for gourds!) and they would all scream at Mom whenever she even so much as approached a knife. My job consisted mainly of scooping out the rancid goop and seeds, (lovely job!!) so you can see why I never really enjoyed the experience.

Secondly, Halloween is one big sugar high. With our penchant for chocolate, the last thing that this household needs is more calories.  And, the worst part is that with those mini bars, one never really feels as though the waistline is expanding. In our kid-friendly days, we had a little practice around here known as "treat days".  The only days during the week that the kids were allowed sweets and treats were Saturday and Sunday.  The weekdays were junk free.  (I know that you are thinking either that this was impossible to patrol, or that my kids were deprived by a true bitch of a mother!) It really did work as a life philosophy, but Halloween presented a whole other set of challenges.  When the boys returned home with their loot, they were permitted to choose a few items and then the rest went into storage for treat days.  The problems arose when the husband discovered the storage place.  He would surreptitiously sift through the good stuff and leave the kids with all of the "undesirable" items like raisins and stale suckers.  I never really knew if the boys discovered that their candy had been looted, because after a couple of weeks, they actually forgot that the stuff existed and by March or April, I would either toss the leftovers or put it away to give to some other poor sucker on the following Halloween.  I am convinced that there were some items that kept making their way back to my house year after dreaded year, because other parents in the neighbourhood had the same ideas that I had.

Thirdly, I hate dressing up in a costume.  I have already explained that I cannot make my own, so that leaves rentals.  Have any of you ever rented a costume?  They smell funny (probably from the previous renter's perspiration) rarely fit properly and they cost a bloody fortune.  My Little Bro and the Ying to his Yang used to have a yearly All Hallow's Eve celebration.  They would come up with these odd costume requirements and expect us all to partake.  Being the good sport that I am, I always came dressed for the occasion, but the Husband would bitch and moan every year. (He has especially miserable memories of when I dressed him up as the Jolly Green Giant with me as the Little Green Sprout! That costume came complete with tights and green face paint!! If you ask me quietly offline, I might be able to dig up a picture or two.) While some amongst us relish in the kid-like experience of dressing in costume year after year, I believe that there is a shelf-life to the costume wearing experience, and I think that mine has expired.

Finally, Halloween comes at a dark, cold and miserable time of the year.  I used to hate the idea of dressing the kids up in their costumes, only to have to cover all of the work with winter coats, hats and mittens.  Maybe if our climate was more moderate, there might have been a bit more excitement and enjoyment, but the Husband and I would actually flip a coin to see which of us losers had to make the Trick or Treat rounds.  In fairness, he lost way more often than did I.

Please don't take my indictment of this holiday as anything other than my own personal bias. Seeing tiny winged fairies and miniature SpiderMen come to the door is always a highlight, but it never seemed to be enough to balance out the stuff that didn't appeal.  I just don't like the idea of being scared out of my wits. I don't enjoy horror and slasher films and I don't like the commercialization of the whole ordeal.  This year, the Husband and I will be taking our Halloween celebrations to a concert with Buffy Sainte Marie and Richie Havens. Now that is what I call a Halloween party!!

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