I approached the dark porch with excitement, eager to see my classmate in full Halloween garb. I knocked on the door and clutched my pumpkin shaped candy bucket in one small hand. The boy opened the door a few inches, peered out at me in nothing but jeans and a t-shirt, and said, “We don’t celebrate Halloween.”
WHAT? Why not? I wondered. Why would anyone NOT participate in a holiday where sugar and makeup is allowed in abundance and staying out after dark is not only acceptable, but encouraged by adults! My seven year old mind couldn’t quite wrap around such an unfathomable idea. Nor did it really want to. I continued my evening, perplexed, and more than thirty years later I still can remember that boys face, peering through the dark doorway.
As an adult, I’ve always participated in Halloween. I’ve dressed my kids in costume, toted them up and down snow covered sidewalks, through shopping malls, from store to store, filling their bags and their tummy’s with chocolaty, sugary, crap. We’ve plotted out costumes, traded with other families and reused time and again, the same old ones.
And every year…I think, “Why?”
I’ve friends who don’t do it. Whose kids have never once dressed as a puppy or panhandled for candy, and they don’t seem the worse for the wear. They’ve survived, and probably have less dental disasters. And I wonder, are they missing something…or am I?
I’ve spent upwards of a hundred dollars in years past, to encase my children in fantasy wear. Skeletons, princesses, puppies and kittens. A lobster, a Dalmatian, a dozen different witches. I’ve spent money when it could have been used elsewhere. I’ve stressed when I shouldn’t over costumes, parties and candy bags. I’ve gone out in increment weather and traveled roads best not traveled.
And every year I contemplate the idea of not doing it. Of not giving into the pressure…from kids…from society…from myself. I think of making new traditions that don’t involve heaps of sugary processed foods I rarely buy any other time of the year. I imagine different ways of breaking it to the kids. I procrastinate getting costumes in hopes I’ll come up with a really great plan that will end the madness, yet not horribly disappoint children who plan all year for that one spooky night of junk-food-fest.
After all, last year I stopped giving Easter baskets and nobody even really noticed. I’ve not bought pumpkins for carving in several years. Perhaps nixing the costume thing would slip by as easily. Maybe they’d just let it go…but I doubt it.