My Beef With Halloween: Resolved?

Conservatives understand Halloween, liberals only understand Christmas. If you want to control a population, don’t give it social services, give it a scary adversary.

Tom Robbins, Skinny Legs and All

I admit it.

I admit it.

I have struggled with the concept of Halloween since I was at least twelve years old. I’m not sure why but it was another seventeen years before I donned a Halloween costume. I guess I just decided that I’d had enough.

And while I can look back with fondness at a series of epic homemade costumes (thanks Mom!) that included Han Solo, Batman, Spider-man, and the Flash to name a few–all good times, fond memories–I can’t quite escape a mistrust of the whole darn, spooky event (for the record Halloween is not a holiday and I wish people would stop referring to it as such). A celebration? Sure. A holiday? Definitely not.

Trick or…Cynicism

I know many folks that hold the cynical view that Halloween is nothing more than a pipeline for Big Sugar to push their drug of choice. (Yes. I know that it already owns Valentine’s Day, so don’t get me started on that one.) I am aware that I am somewhat hypocritical in my analysis because for the past 45-ish years rarely has there ever been a bite-sized Mars candy bar that I have turned my back on.

And then there’s the realistic view. We are drowning in plastic while our kids run around in zombie-like trances on the hunt for a sugar fix. Scratch that. This might be more of the aforementioned cynical perspective, too…

Our two youngest kiddos still indulge in the trick or treat ritual, but over the past feels their time on the streets is shortening; it is losing steam. And the Switch Witch (aka the Sugar Fairy) no longer visits our house. Her job has become superfluous. Annually, our collective ability to ‘sugar self-regulate’ is gaining strength. The kids have (finally!) adopted our recommendation by halving the evening’s haul of loot.

man painted boy s face
Photo by Kevin Bidwell on

Decorating with the Jones’

Depending on your attitude and penchant, decorating the house for Halloween when you don’t even really like Halloween can be an arduous exercise. And that’s when I need to dig into my holiday mantra: Do it for the kids. I used to worry about keeping up with the Jones’ (see Christmas for a similar dilemma). For this year’s extravaganza, a neighbour installed a 10 x 8 screen with a rear-projector system that ran a loop of ghostly images on his front lawn putting the rest of the neighbourhood on notice.

But, I no longer care to be a part of that rat race. This year it was a team of just two staging the outside for Halloween. And…it was joyful. A few plastic skeletons, green lighting, and carved jack-o-lanterns were utilized. Thirty minutes later, fait accompli. I cannot help but wonder if the absence of sibling fighting that became an elemental part of the tradition (where to put the headstones or the skeleton missing one arm or how many flood lights are needed, etc.) was a part of this new found decorating serenity.

I wonder…

The past three Halloweens have seen another tradition, of sorts, initiated: our eldest accompanying his youngest sibling for trick or treating throughout the neighbourhood. Both parties have readily admitted to enjoying the experience. And, admittedly, the house was a tranquil abode for nearly twenty-five minutes last week.

Who Needs a Costume?

Douglas Coupland once noted that, “If human beings had genuine courage, they’d wear their costumes every day of the year, not just on Halloween.” I think that I understand what the iconic Canadian artist and author is saying: it would be a better world if people could feel safe enough to wear whatever the heck they felt like, act however they pleased any time they wished. But wouldn’t it be really cool if people could just feel comfortable and safe enough in their own skins, to have the courage, to live every day of the year as their true selves sans costumes, masks, and make-up, all the time?

Now that might be worth experiencing the annual sugar-induced coma.


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