Some people are Halloween people and love to decorate their homes and throw costume parties. I’m more like the Ebenezer Scrooge of this fall holiday, especially now that we’re empty nesters. My husband joins me in this sentiment and recently asked, “If we don’t have any children at home, do we have to hand out candy?” Of course we do; don’t get me wrong, I always helped my daughters with their costumes, and have never been accused of withholding candy. I just don’t like any part of it. There, I said it. I think it goes back to my youth when I didn’t enjoy dressing up and going trick or treating. I’m not sure why. I think I developed a complex when I was 5 or 6 and exited my house in a store-bought costume from J.C. Penney only to be met by my across-the-street neighbor whose mother was crafty. I remember one year she was dressed as an apple, fully decked out in a stuffed red felt suit complete with a stem on top of her head. How could my polyester, one-dimensional Snow White dress with plastic mask compete with that? Oh, and, I hated ringing strangers’ doorbells. Who knew what dangers lurked within? I was an unusual kid, I know. I didn’t enjoy hay rides or haunted houses, and found carving pumpkins messy. Thankfully, I eventually outgrew the holiday and the pressure to wear a disguise every October 31st ended. Then I had children. Talk about costume pressure! At first it wasn’t too bad; we just stuffed the baby in a little orange onesie with a Jack-o-lantern stitched on the front. But, before long, the girls were toddling and the Disney store opened at North Star Mall. Claire wanted to be a fairy princess in a pink dress with many, many layers of tulle and a light-up wand, and Caitlin needed to be Princess Jasmine in her turquoise outfit complete with shoes and lots of exotic gold accessories. Cha-ching! When you do not have a creative bone in your body, this can be a costly holiday. Some years I was able to save money by recycling a ridiculously expensive dance recital costume purchased the previous spring. Of course, in a pinch there was always the pair of scrubs grabbed from my husband’s closet – instant Doctor! And, a classic psychedelic dress that belonged to my mother in the ’60’s paired with some groovy shades could transform anyone into a hippy. Thank goodness for the Harry Potter decade – Grandma sewed a cape, we grabbed a wand, (aka a stick from the backyard), and were done! Today kids don’t seem to outgrow the holiday. Mine were still dressing up in high school and college, and I believe my grad student transformed herself into The Hunger Games’ Katness just last weekend! My dad said that when he was a little boy, he and his brothers were aways ghosts for Halloween; they just threw on a sheet and went over to their aunt and uncle’s house for an apple or a shiny coin. How did we let this holiday get so out of control?
I’m starting to feel guilty about my Halloween admission; it almost seems sacrilegious in this day and age. There are almost as many outdoor decorations in my neighborhood as there are at Christmastime. Goblins and ghouls at least two stories high grace the lawns; and there are many inflatable decorations that lay flat on yards all day, then magically morph into Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin at night. The best decoration I ever had was a huge pinata fashioned as a witch riding a broom, which I hung from a tree in my front yard. I’ve also been known to put out a decorative door mat.
Despite my bad attitude, my front porch light will be burning on Thursday night and I’ll have plenty of M&M’s and mini Snickers bars, as usual. But I’ll really miss having my girls here. They were always happy to answer the door and greet the car loads of strangers’ children who were bused in from the hinterlands. (I know this because there are exactly TWO children of trick or treating age who live on our entire street.) My girls were even kind to the teenagers who appeared later in the evening with their pillowcases out-stretched. Oh well, perhaps a glass or two of Chardonnay will help me smile and cheerfully greet my little visitors. I wouldn’t want to be known as the neighborhood *itch. (Rhymes with witch.)