Truth be told, I’m off-put by most every holiday, which these days seem to have all morphed into pure commercial enterprises, far afield from the tolerable celebrations they once were. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and of course Christmas, have all be hijacked. Even Thanksgiving, which should mean just a few seasonal decorations coupled with a grand feast, has been spoiled by commercialism.
But the one that I utterly loathe is Halloween.
Even as a kid I couldn’t stand Halloween, which presented me with two annual dilemmas. What to wear, and how to avoid looking like a wuss when I would only half-heartedly participate in the de rigueur mindless mischief with the boys.
My typical default costume was a simple white sheet with holes for my arms, eyes and mouth.
“There, I’m a goddamn ghost. Everyone happy now? Too simple? Too bad.”
As to the mischief, I never had an effective avoidance m.o. Boys were obliged to carry on like mutants, or be ridiculed. I went along, reluctantly. We egged cars, tp’d houses, pennied doors, and left lit bags of dog shit aflame on the stoops of out-of-favor neighbors, then rang the doorbell while screaming “fire” and hid in the bushes watching the disliked neighbor get soiled stomping out our fire. Spiteful, crude, nasty stuff, all done in the name of being cool and macho. I hated it and felt stupid and ashamed of myself for going along to get along.
As a parent, my hatred for Halloween only grew. Now one costume wasn’t enough. No, no. If there were three Halloween functions, well, naturally, a kid needed three different costumes, preferably all au courant.
“What about being a ghost?”, I’d regularly propose, and just as regularly be soundly rebuked.
“Oh, Dad. That’s just so lame. Who would ever do that?”
And the job of safe guarding a trick-or-treating young girl was always a non-negotiable imperative from my wife, which meant tagging along from a safe distance keeping a watchful eye. If the weather was cold or wet, as it often was, good luck trying to get my little darling to wear a coat or gloves or a hat or a scarf.
“Wear a coat over my costume? Why? I want people to see it, right?”
“Because we’re not in Miami. It’s 45 degrees out with rain likely later.”
“I’ll be fine. But if you want to carry some stuff for me, okay.”
So, I’d walk around for hours lumbered with all her extra gear, none of which, of course, would ever get worn. By the time we got home with her wretched Halloween harvest — a 300-pound bag of glucose — she’d be chilled to the bone and already working on a world class stomach ache from all the crap consumed along the way.
The whole thing was a misery.
Happily these days I’m at liberty to impose my own private boycott. No house decorations. No pumpkin. House darkened. Bowl of candy left by the door, just in case. Dinner out. Home late. Slip contentedly into bed having dodged the entire bloody thing.
But then, lurking mightily in the immediate future, the super heavyweights … Thanksgiving and Christmas. Oh, woe is me.