Let me begin with this statement: I hate Halloween. Hate it. Very, very, very much hate Halloween. It’s almost here and all I can think is how I can’t wait for it to be over. Hate. It.
My children, of course, love Halloween and everything about it. Of course the costumes: this year it’s a panda and a rainbow unicorn (whatever that is). Then there’s the parade at school; everyone in costume (including the teachers and staff for some reason) strutting around and showing off how they’ve morphed into someone/something else for the day. My girls love the school Halloween sing-a-long or whatever they call this excuse to force…that is, invite parents to listen to their kids wail…er…sing silly songs. And, oh, the class Halloween parties. Exchanging small gifts with their classmates. Gathering together after school with a group of friends and going door to door for that sweet, sweet October booty. Then coming back home and eating what’s leftover from the booty gifts we bought for the little beggars trick-or-treaters who darkened our door dropped by.
I know. I’m a Grinch. But this whole Halloween thing is just miserable to me. And I have finally concluded that the origins of this can be traced to (big surprise here, wait for it) my childhood. If I was ever going to enjoy Halloween it would have been when I was a child. But I think I missed my window. And now it’s closed. Shut.
I remember knowing that candy was involved and I have always been smart enough to know that candy is almost always a good thing. I wanted candy. Check. I also wanted to dress up; that seemed like it might be fun. A (not so) funny thing happened on the way to get a costume: no one took me to get a costume. Boo. But, fine, I was a kid and imagination was in no short supply. I crafted my own costume from stuff around the house: old ballet costumes, my Dad’s hats and old clothes, Mom’s make up in case I wanted a moustache or something… You get the picture. I distinctly remember dressing as some kind of hobo-ballerina-detective one year. I made it work.
NO ONE bought a costume for me. Ever. I’m not complaining about that. It’s just a statement of fact. Whatever was happening when Lynne was a child had ended by the time I came along six years later. No prob. Things happen. The budget is the budget. I get that.
Of course, none of that is why I hate Halloween.
I hate it because I missed the opportunity to learn to enjoy it because what should be the best part (and I assume that’s the begging trick-or-treating) was only a source of anxiety and frustration. Sunshine wasn’t going to go out with us, let’s get that straight right now. She yelled that fact at us and made sure we knew that we shouldn’t even ask. Got it. Don’t ask about any costumes either! Got it. And the candy? Got it, Sunshine. You’re not doing any of that. I got it. Heavy sigh…
So the places that we could go were limited to the houses where she actually knew the occupants. I think she knew a grand total of four families in our neighborhood. So, let’s see… that’s four houses where my younger sister, The Tempest and I could go trick-or-treating. Four. Count ’em. I’ll wait. One. Two. Three. Four. Done. I think my best haul was two mini Mr. Goodbars, a piece of Bubble Yum and a few pennies. Yay. Not.
One year, The Tempest and I decided to try and combine our candy to see if that would make the haul look more impressive. Nope. It didn’t.
And there was no gift booty to pillage when we got home. Sunshine wasn’t buying candy for the local urchins. Just turn off the lights and pretend that no one is home.
I gave up early. I think I was eight or nine when I decided that Halloween wasn’t worth the effort. It wasn’t fun. You can’t be a hobo-ballerina-detective every year without raising the suspicions of the other kids that your mother didn’t love you enough to buy a new costume. So I just stopped. I stopped doing Halloween and I stopped enjoying it– if I ever did.
And today I still don’t enjoy it. I don’t want to buy new costumes for my kids every year. But I do it. I don’t want to go listen to them sing silly songs. But I do that too. I don’t enjoy buying gift booty for the local urchins, but I don’t see any way around that since my kids are friends with so many of them. And I really do not want to rock-paper-scissors with my husband to see who gets to take the kids out on a really long trick-or-treating expedition. But we do it every year and I always lose which means I need to wear my good sneakers. I do it for my kids.
So that’s the story: Sunshine didn’t take one for her kids to give them a fun Halloween. At least not as far as I can remember. She didn’t suck it up and do the thing she didn’t enjoy to make her kids happy; at least not the two youngest kids. Maybe she was tired. Maybe she was depressed. Maybe she was flat broke. But I think that maybe the real story is that she’s a monster of a woman who could not have been less interested and involved in making her kids feel a little bit special. Maybe she didn’t want to be involved in our lives at all except to try and spread that special brand of misery she enjoys so much. And maybe the reason I suffer through this hell of a fake holiday is to be as unlike her as a mother as I can possibly be.
I’ll be in a better mood in November. And I can hardly wait.
Jen and I often think of ourselves as part of our parents’ two sets of children. First, I was born. Two years later our sister Straighten Up! came along. Jennifer was born six years after Straighten Up! and The Tempest was born two years after that. There. Two sets of children and, quite often, two sets of experiences.
For example, Halloween. Straighten Up! and I thoroughly enjoyed this observance. One of the most exciting times of the year was our trip to the store to get our costumes. Sunshine was fussy and easily irritated, but that didn’t keep her from making the effort. The choices available to Jen’s Impossible Miracles and my granddaughter, Little Tweety Pie, were unavailable to Straighten Up! and me, but that probably made it easier for Sunshine. We simply found something age and size appropriate in the Halloween Costume section of the store. Voila! Costumes! Complete with the hard, plastic, vintage masks now sold on Ebay.
Sunshine usually cut it way too close for our comfort, but she did her motherly duty and made sure her daughters were outfitted for the Spookfest. She also made sure she was ready to attend to visiting witches, ghosts and goblins by keeping a jack-o-lantern loaded with candy near the front door.
Daddy’s job was to take us from house to house in search of candy and other goodies. We gathered with our neighborhood playmates and their fathers and began our happy excursion. As our dads stood watch at the gates of each residence, we giddily ran to entrance doors squealing the time-honored “trick-or-treat!”
Almost everyone greeted us pleasantly and behaved generously. The few who chose not to participate simply kept their doors closed and we moved on. By the time we returned home, Straighten Up! and I were absolutely loaded with chocolate bars, lollipops, coins, apples, oranges and gum. Per the warnings of the day, Sunshine inspected the fruit to insure that no fiend had inserted a razor blade therein while my sister and I reveled in the size of our haul. What a great day! Happy Halloween!