Okay the image was actually from Return to Oz, but I like the look of Jack Pumpkinhead too much not to use it.
There’s something about the holidays that I just hate, and they come and go with the seasons. I’m annoyed by most holidays and wish we didn’t make such a big deal about them. Valentines Day and Christmas are the worst (yes, FUX news, go ahead an put me on your “war on Christmas” crap list–I went there).
Until a few years ago, I’d pretty well written off Halloween. Surrounded by candy while fat and dieting, no place to go where I lived, fake spider webs and spiders all over…
Not saying I’m scared of spiders webs–it just reminds me of all the webs I’ve neglected to clean out of my own house and I don’t like holidays that get me thinking about housework.
Well, that changed when I became part of a school group and put props together for a Halloween event (oh, sorry, “Fall Festival” to most down here). Suddenly, the world was full of possibilities…and Halloween became my favorite.
These are a few of the biggest reasons.
- The songs aren’t repetitive and annoying as hell. Unless you’re going for a very specific channel on the radio or satellite, or a gift/holiday store, you’re not going to be inundated with a hundred variations of the same Halloween songs. Besides, for a holiday song, I can’t help but grin, dance in my seat, and tap my feet to “Monster Mash.” (Hey, Bobby Pickett’s original is so much fun, and I crack up when hearing Vincent Price’s version).
- The Candy. Okay, I know I’ve complained about the candy already because of my weight, and part of me cringes at the mess of plastic and wrappers that we have to contend with every year (I hate cleaning up the classroom between Halloween and Thanksgiving). Oh, well, I think it’s the variety of candy and those damned addictive Tootsie Rolls (vanilla…mmm…) burst onto the shelves. And candies that you usually can’t find in bite-sized (or at least, not affordably) are slapped with a Halloween design and marked down so we can enjoy them at least once a year without overdoing it…
- Few (if any) family traditions to deal with. I suppose we could call this one the “calm before the storm” holiday of fights, nitpicking, questions on when so-and-so is getting married/ having a baby/ coming out/ divorcing. Halloween is a setup for reminding us Thanksgiving is around the corner, and when we’re done with the turkey, on to Christmas. But until then, here’s a fall holiday that most people don’t strangle with family traditions. A haunted house one year, a party another, a fall festival/church event another year…there are lots of possibilities. It’s a free-form holiday that some go crazy with and some are much more subdued. It’s also one of the few holidays where you’re not made to feel like an asshole if you don’t participate. Leave the porch light off and go to bed–for all anybody knows, you’re out of town at a party (or behind the door with a paintball gun waiting for the bored teens armed with toilet paper).
- The best time for a community to come together. Yes, the one time of year it’s totally acceptable to accept candy from “strangers.” But in neighborhoods that still do trick-or-treating, all the kids and their parents are out and about, and the sheer numbers help keep people safe from real or imagined threats to the kids. Still, the herd mentality also means being communal and parents catching up and chatting when normally they’d be at home feeding and cleaning and whatever else. It’s good for the kids to be out and about together, and the adults, too. Around here, most people do the “fall festival” thing, because we live so far out that trick-or-treating stopped in these neighborhoods about a decade ago. But there are plenty of small churches, and they invite people in to participate in the fall festivals. I like that. Even churches that seem very nose-in-the-air tend to let their hair down, so to speak, and let kids play games and adults talk. I think Halloween is the closest we get to being actively social in person again.
- It lets you flex your imagination muscles. Oh heavens, this is what got me going. I was in a “fall festival” at my school and all these ideas for a Haunted house were driving me up the wall. I’ll ignore the fact that I spent way too much money on spray paint and other tools to build my set, and just relish the fact that I had the chance to try something cool. Halloween is the ultimate do-it-yourself holiday. Sure, there are great ideas online for themed cookies and place settings and things to appeal to the domestic side, but sometimes you just need some scraps of lumber and graph paper to have a ton of fun. I built and built for a month and was exhausted at the end, but had so much freaking fun I couldn’t wait until the next year’s event (when I could recycle some of it and make it even bigger). And costume ideas–sometimes the cheapest are the best, and make my fingers itch to write down what I’m seeing.
And my honorable mention, which makes me reflect on all this stuff:
Working in a Halloween store. Yup, got that part-time job and I can show up pretty much any time I want. I haven’t been writing much the past week because they needed so much help setting up. I hadn’t been into a Halloween store in years, and this place is going to be fantastic when we open in the next few days. there’s so much stuff, and some of it is crazy fun looking, just crazy, a bit scary, etc. Other stuff–well, I can see how people can get very creative when you have gigantic “create your own costume” sections full of ideas and accessories to get you going. I’ll be a busy little twerp, but I’ll be enjoying the hell out of helping people with their designs and seeing what they come up with.
Yeah, I’ll be a tired little twerp, but maybe making enough money to pay my bills and be able to help other people out…with a little left over for some costume possibilities next year.
As long as I keep away from the after-holiday marked-down candy, I should be okay. Resist, kiddo, resist.
Anything you love about Halloween?