Wednesday, October 27, 2010

This Just In: Halloween Scrooge On the Loose

This week I've been amused by the anxious hand-wringing on the LDS blogs about how to celebrate Halloween when it comes on Sunday like it does this year. Duh! Aren't the concepts of the sabbath and Halloween rather oxymoronic? Why is this even a point of discussion? It's just so blindingly obvious - You. DON'T. Celebrate. Halloween. On. Sunday. In fact, we personally don't celebrate it any other day of the week either.

Halloween is a ripoff, emotional blackmail to force you to buy something they don't need for somebody you don't know. When the kids left home we opted out of Halloween. Instead, we usually made plans to be somewhere else on October 31, like the temple, where we actually found a lot of other people who were there for the same reason - to avoid answering the doorbell – while accomplishing something truly worthwhile.

Roger accepts the premise of the holiday and is easily guilted into things. When he was teaching, he even buckled to pressure for all the faculty to wear costumes for Halloween, but he took it as a challenge to make his costume something that didn't interfere with the purpose of school. One year he simple put a bandage on his forehead and went as Gerald Ford. He liked to think big. Once he pinned a tin foil "C" of his shirt pockets and went as the North American continent - from "C" to shining "C." Another time he wore a blue shirt and a shell necklace and went as the Pacific Ocean.

I, however, do not buy into the myth; I will not make a social contract I don't intend to keep. Sometimes when we'd leave town or go out to dinner and shopping on Halloween, he was overwhelmed by visions of heartbroken sobbing children pounding on our abandoned front door, alas, to no avail. So he'd wimp out and put a bowl of candy on the porch for the poor little starving ragamuffins to help themselves while we were gone, a pathetic surrender to social pressure. When they came around selling things for a school fund raiser, I was a little more sympathetic, but when they came begging at my doorstep on Halloween, I refused to get sucked in. Well, I could probably deal with a couple of little ones, but it's the big ones with pillow cases setting their sights on a big haul that really make me want to chase them off with my broom.

I know, I know - what about all those darling little witches and goblins and hobos and space men whose mothers put so much thought and effort into their costumes, and the dads who braved the cold to accompany them around the neighborhood. Well, I think by mutual consent we could agree not to go through this charade again and we probably wouldn't miss it. After all, we probably won't be celebrating Halloween in the Millennium, and they'll have to change their traditions then. Personally, I'm already over it.

If I could, I'd deal with Halloween the way my grandmother often did - she'd stick out her false teeth and waggle them at the unsuspecting little beggars. Very often the kids would bolt off the porch forgetting the candy part of the "trick or treat" proposition. Yeah, that was one of many reasons why I loved my grandmother.

All my life I've been puzzled over the idea that getting your pants scared off was a good thing. I have never been a fan of being terrorized. My heart rate is just fine as it is, thank you very much. Vampires bore me, werewolves disgust me and Freddy Kruger needs to be institutionalized. Scary movies are a waste of time. What's the point in scaring people, or wanting to be scared? What does it prove or accomplish? I once parted company with a young suitor whose goal was to take me on the Wild Mouse roller coaster at Lagoon because it would scare me so much I'd no doubt be inclined to turn to him for comfort, and he'd be willing to comfort me, and, well, you get the picture. Not a very original ploy, but every dork-faced guy is willing to try the obvious things first. I realized that if that was his idea of thrills, we had had nothing in common.

You want to get really scared this Halloween? Think about voting two days later. Think about raising kids. Think about paying the bills. Now I've done it - I've scared myself.

What does thrill me? Certain kinds of music that touch my spirit, written words that lift my soul, works of art that please my eyes, raspberries, a Northwest forest, Mt. Hood, chocolate, a Pacific sunset, the faces of my grandchildren, hugs from people I love, words of gratitude and appreciation, reaching a long-worked-for goal, composing a finely-tuned sentence. That's probably enough sweetness right there to compensate for all that candy on all those holidays from October to February.

But Halloween? A cheap, trifling substitute for the real thing.


jww said...

I love candy, so I always liked Halloween for that, but once I had kids I thought twice about it. Kevin told me that the American missionaries he served with in Chile always wanted to have a Halloween party at the church building, and when one Branch President asked what Halloween was, Kevin explained its history (Hallows Eve is the night before Hallows Day, or All Saints Day, so it's the night when the evil spirits party it up. Kind of like Mardi Gras before Lent--get all your sinning out first before you have to be good.) The Branch President was SHOCKED that any members of the church celebrated Halloween, especially in the church building. To this day, I can't imagine that the Lord is the tiniest bit pleased when we dress up as blood-sucking creatures and try to scare each other in his house.

Aside from that, I've come to the conclusion that I just prefer cute stuff. I don't enjoy skeletons with their eyes falling out. I just don't. If you want to make little fruit salads and put them in hollowed-out oranges and decorate them to look like pumpkins, I'm in.

jww said...

Ethan HATES Halloween with a passion because he is easily frightened, and this year we had a discussion about how the things at Halloween aren't REALLY scary because they are either A) made up or B) real but not scary. Vampires and ghosts aren't real, so there's no reason to be scared by them. Skeletons ARE real (everybody has one inside his/her body) but they are just our bones, and they don't talk or walk on their own, so that's made up. Spiders ARE real, but they're just spiders. Not so different from ladybugs or beetles, except you hope one doesn't bite you.

I think dressing up in costume is fun for kids (although sometimes I think it's more for the parents than the kids), and I love candy, but I could definitely do without Halloween. I haven't forced it on my kids--I've always left it completely up to them how/if they want to participate, and I've had takers AND "no thanks"-ers every year. Last year nobody wanted to do anything, so nobody dressed up at all (and they've never been trick-or-treating ever because we always had a ward party AND a work party to go to). Last year we just had a family party where I bought some candy, made some hors d'oeuvres, and we played games. Everybody loved it! And Belinda had fun handing out candy to people in the neighborhood!

This year, we do have a ward party. Ethan decided (...yesterday) that he wants to dress up, but he's not staying for the trick-or-treating after dinner because he thinks it will be scary. I'm okay with that.

Toshia said...

I'm with you, I have never really liked Halloween. You left out the part about how we teach our children to not talk to strangers, yet then let them wander around in the dark knocking on doors and begging candy! If I had my way we would do what my mom always did...put in a movie and eat popcorn and a bag of candy she would buy for us. I do like that our little town has decided to have their "festivities" on Saturday instead of Sunday. Sunday is the Sabbath and when I hear people say they are sure the Lord would make an exception it makes me want to laugh. I just say if you can show me where that is written then I might believe it; however, at this point what is written is to keep the Sabbath day holy:) [I happen to always win that argument!]

Rachel said...

Well said. We have celebrated Halloween, but now that the boys are older we have just told them to invite their friends over for a party. Nothing beats a good movie and popcorn. They are tired of trick or treating and have more fun handing out the candy instead of searching for it.

Mary said...

I really can go either way on the decorations and costumes, which is why my kids almost always take all that on themselves. The cost of candy does irk me, but I have to say that I really love taking my little ones around our neighborhood. I enjoyed my impromptu visits with other moms last night as we strolled along the sidewalk as far as our childrens' trick-or-treating paths overlapped. I also got to say hi to neighbors who normally don't open their doors to visitors. My children have mapped out their favorite houses, several of which are on your street. We chatted in the Millers' driveway around their fire while the children warmed their hands, and we tried all three varieties of "made-to-order" doughnuts at the Passeys' home. Then we headed over one street where Jim Eberhard performed his Halloween trick of juggling the kids' candy. So while I don't care much for the retail side of Halloween, I certainly love the neighborly good feeling in our cluster of streets. (Side note: I also like that no one in our neighborhood coordinated Saturday trick-or-treating. We all just knew--LDS or not--that Sunday was not the appropriate day for the holiday, and everyone was set to go last night.)