Last October, as I was simultaneously turning a nine-year-old boy into a clown, pouring bags of candy into a bottomless plastic cauldron, and running through the house with a carving knife (to put the finishing touches on our Jack-O’-Lantern, of course) I came to a startling realization. This once-simple holiday had taken on the manic fever pitch of the Christmas season.
Think about it: Years ago, Halloween was celebrated that day. It wasn’t considered its own season. Maybe a week, maybe days before October 31, kids figured out their costumes. Now, you can pick up one of thousands of choices while doing your back-to-school shopping in mid-August. Except that you can’t, really, because if your children are like mine, they’re going to change their minds about their costumes right up until midnight on Oct. 30. It’s similar to when they sit down with hot cocoa to rewrite their wish lists on Christmas Eve and a voice in your head says, “Not even Amazon Prime can save you now!”
Speaking of gift giving, my uncle sends my children individual Halloween cards, each with $5 inside; which he, of course, insists they spend on ice cream. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very sweet (pun intended) gesture; but I think their teeth are rotting fast enough thanks to the mountains of candy they collect while trick-or-treating. Plus, now we’re obligated to send thank-you notes! I’ll add that to my to-do list just after I finish affixing cornstalks to my lamppost and porch columns. Because that’s another thing: You must decorate your home or risk being considered the neighborhood Grinch, or, in this case, witch.
In the past, you could simply carve a few triangles into a pumpkin, stick a candle in it, and call it a day. Not anymore! Now you can purchase stencils that will allow you to recreate Edvard Munch’s The Scream on the face of your orange fruit. Also, you may want to consider making your gourds even more gorgeous by adorning them with glitter or chalk paint, which allows you to write your own seasonal greeting. (For more ideas, or If you just want to feel inadequate, visit Pinterest in early autumn.)
The last time I tried to go all out with my decorating, the wind whipped our plastic skeleton’s bones all over the yard. I still had an errant femur on my porch as Easter approached, prompting my neighbor to ask if we’d gotten a dog. I was tempted to say “Yes!” rather than confess I was too lazy to retrieve this frippery — like those people who leave their Christmas decorations up long after they become a fire hazard.
Sure, all these extras are immensely fun for the little guys, but for the grown-ups? Not so much. If you have children in elementary school and you work outside the home, it’s worse; you should just take the day, or maybe all of Halloween week, as it’s known in some circles, off. After all, the parties, parades, and wedding-day-like prep almost demand it. Anyone who’s been on the receiving end of an email sent from classroom parents knows what I’m talking about.
Don’t Forget to Smile
Much like Christmas, photos documenting the Halloween season are a must. While you don’t have to mail them out the old fashioned way, you’ll want to get them circulating on Facebook and Instagram in a timely fashion. (Extra points if you capture autumn leaves wafting through the foreground!)
And similar to the obligatory visit to Santa, you will need to traipse through a pumpkin patch; or get lost in a corn maze; or experience the jostling joy of an overpriced hay ride; all before you can say you’ve truly embrace the wonders of the season.
Don’t get me wrong, I do look forward to this holiday; but sometimes all it entails makes Halloween seem scarier than it was ever intended to be.
Hero (Top) Composite Feature Image: © Mariusz Blach, Milles Studio / Dollar Photo Club