I'm a Halloween Scrooge. Or maybe a Grinch.
Either way, I just don't get it. I don't get spending hundreds of dollars on decorations that don't make a house look prettier. I don't get taking little bitty children who can barely even say the words "trick or treat" around the neighborhood asking strangers for candy. I don't get voluntarily going to "haunted houses" to have the wits scared out of you. And I don't get dressing up in ghoulish, ugly costumes.
When my two oldest children were a lot younger, we did do some trick-or-treating. But we dressed them in cute, cuddly costumes. We generally only took them to houses of people that we knew or that lived on our street. And we stopped trick-or-treating long before they got to junior high.
The older I have gotten, the more I resent the whole Halloween ritual. I resent being expected to spend $20 or more on candy for kids I don't even know. I resent that many of the kids to whom I will give that candy will be taller than me and probably have more discretionary income. I resent the assumption that I will be participating unless I send some kind of overt message (such as turning off my porch light and hiding in the back of the house) that I am not.
One of the things I noticed upon moving from Texas to Illinois 14 years ago was a heightened appreciation of Halloween. It's not that we didn't "do" Halloween when I was growing up in Texas. But it has always seemed to me that there is a lot more effort put into it here than I remember as a child. Perhaps I am just paying more attention now than I did back then. But I was already an adult when I moved to Illinois, and I noticed the difference right away.
Another difference I noticed upon moving further north was the greater time and effort that people here put into their yards. As soon as temperate weather comes, the work of planting and watering and mowing and trimming begins, and it continues all summer with an intensity I never saw as a child. And indeed, the results are beautiful. I have always been impressed by the care that my fellow Illinoisians take with their homes and yards.
The more I think about it, the more I suspect that the two things are related. When you live in a climate that keeps you indoors for almost six months of the year, you cherish the times spent outdoors. When year by year you watch almost everything turn brown and die, you develop a high appreciation for the growing season. So maybe that's what Halloween is all about--a last fling, a parting hurrah for people who are about to be hit with winter in all its fury.
In that case I suppose I should have a better attitude. My husband says we should look at Halloween as an opportunity to be good neighbors--to build up our relationship with the people we live nearby. But it's hard to focus on good feelings when Halloween seems to be a lot nastier than it used to be. And I'm not the only one who has noticed an increasingly sinister element to this "holiday." (Hat tip: Dr. Veith.)
I think next year at this time I'd like to do something like this. Maybe then I would have a better outlook. Until then . . . bah, humbug.