I heard this week a bunch of crazies on the radio talking about scaling back Halloween. I wish those same killjoys would go after merchants, treading all over the dwindling days of autumn with their Christmas baubles. Now there’s one for the pitchforks. For the rest of us, let us enjoy our candy haul and beer on the street as we usher the troops about. Oops- did I say that out loud?
Why I love Halloween
1. It helps you discover your inner creative geek. My basement, usually a TV chill zone, was the scene this week of serious effort to construct head pieces resembling two of the world’s great towers. My daughter and our guest from Paris, here on exchange this fall, conquered the Edge Walk of the CN tower over the weekend. Why not then conquer the costume? Not sure what was better- bonding over bristol board or discerning just the right angle to hold a tower on your head. Hurrah for arts and crafts!
2. It fosters community spirit. Unless you’re a shut-in or self imposed hermit, this is golden. When my kids were young, our old street was packed with revellers. And those were the parents.We had so many kids that one year I ran out of candy. Where we live now is baby lane. Those chubbies in the pumpkin suits don’t fool me for a minute, with their moms and dads thrusting the cherubs forward to chomp on the candy bars. As if. Their parents are just looking for a night out and so they should. As the first snow brings out our shovels, trick or treat night is a big neighbourly high five and a joy of urban living.
3. School kids in costumes get to reinvent themselves for a day. Reinvention is a necessary and vital part of growing up. Costumes permit kids to dip deep into their interior worlds. Celebrate whatever comes out and encourage them to make their own, as soon as they can safely use scissors and glue. If there is more plotting and planning for The Costume than you can tolerate, be comforted knowing anticipation keeps the mood on high. School boards mulling over cancelling Halloween activities during the day should concentrate on bigger fish.
4. Adults in costumes get to reinvent themselves for a night.
Reinvention is a necessary and vital part of adulthood.
5. The Halloween school parade.
Unless you’re a majorette or planning on winning the Stanley Cup, this might be your only starring role.
6. Scaring yourself silly is a good thing now and then.
Why do we read fairy tales to children? Going to dark places is fine, if we can use our wits and strength to find light again. The entire horror movie franchise is based on the premise that screaming at big screen frights clears away your own real ones. We’ve had Eat Brains dinners here and plenty of spooky movie nights. No one has gone home crying yet. There are limits, like the highly detailed fake homicide scene in one neighbourhood house that traumatized kids. Way too much.
7. There is no prescribed way to celebrate. Go ahead, go big and bug out your whole front porch. Dig up your yard with gravestones. Or not. Buy a pumpkin for a few bucks and answer your door, drop a candy in the bucket and go back to your business. Wear a crazy tie to work. It’s that easy, that flexible.
8. You can never have enough traditions. Research shows it is the family stories that bind us and the hokier the tradition the better. My little cauldron at the front door has dry ice and I’m cooking up some ugly green hands but peer closely and you’ll see it’s all pretty lame. But I’ll be out there again with my wooden spoon and all the little kids buy it when I tell them I’m cooking up a monster for dinner. If I think about too long that might be scary.
There are pro sports trades and then there is the Great Loot Trade with a trick or treat posse. Trudge back in with the loot haul, dump and sort. It’s a day everyone feels rich. That is, before Mom and Dad take it away and hide it, trying out silly rules like one candy a day. I say, let kids over six have it all. Yup. They will get sick of it within a few days, I promise you. It’s only once a year. Unless you’re part of a Kool Aid clan, jacked up on sugar every day. Serve up plenty of veggies and greens for the week after Halloween to combat all that sugar and everyone will survive.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN to all tricksters. Let’s hope your treats are sweeter than ever.
For more on Halloween culture, read: Trashy Costume? Yawn.
For more on anticipation, read: Waiting to Skinny Dip