Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy Halloween!

This Halloween I found myself acting like a very big scrooge. When did this “holiday” become so important in American culture? I have been seeing decorated porches and candy displays since the beginning of October when there were still leaves on the trees.

I like Halloween just as much as the next person, but I felt it was my duty as our family’s official wet blanket to keep things as low key as possible. For example, I refused to buy candy until the week prior to the big day and wouldn’t let my kids wear their costumes around the house. The porch was decorated and pumpkins carved only the Wednesday before the big day. Hey, I have other things to do than arrange the decorative gourds which I purchased from Whole Foods on the front steps. And most importantly, I refused to let the kids buy the dog a costume – he’s a DOG after all.

Perhaps I am just intimidated with the apparent ease that all my suburban neighbors seem to have for decorating and getting into the holiday spirit. But honestly, I think this is just another symptom of our sterile suburban comfortable lives. It reeks of a “checky box” that needs to be “gotten through” as opposed to an event to be lived and enjoyed.

I also find this competitive celebratory compulsion to be interfering with the spontaneity and creativity of what could be. When I was little, we didn’t have store bought costumes. We spent weeks planning out our costumes that were put together from our regular wardrobe and those from the other members in the house as well as crepe paper, pipe cleaners, safety pins, and duct tape. Granted the princesses and super heroes that I handed candy out to did look amazing but not nearly as comical as a toilet paper mummy. I fear this is just another attempt to control our children’s creativity and squash freedom of expression.

Needless to say, after I woke up the morning after Halloween, I confiscated all the candy. I took down all my hanging spiders and put away my creepy rats. I did leave the Jack O’Lanterns however; they were adorable, each made by a child in my house. I told myself I left them for the squirrels.

1 comment:

Peg said...

I can totally relate to your sentiments in this piece. Last year we made my son a hippie costume out of old jeans, a wig, hippie glasses, tie-dye shirt, etc. and it was the best costume ever - not like those yukky store bought ones. Where has all the creativity in the world gone?