Halloween has always been my least favorite holiday. As a child, I approached it with a stomach dropping sense of dread. It wasn't fear of the ghosts and goblins purported to be on the loose. It was the expectation to dress up in costume and go out "begging" for candy that brought me to my knees in terror. I have no idea where my aversion to costumes and trick or treating arose. It's possible that my inherent shyness was at the root of it. Wearing a costume made me feel self-conscious, and going up to someone's front door, banging on it, and yelling "Trick or Treat" (while wearing the aforementioned self-consciousness producing costume) was just too much for my sensitive little psyche.
So I dreaded the holiday every year, mostly because of the peer pressure. None of my school friends could understand my antipathy. How could I pass up an opportunity to get free candy just handed to me for no reason?
But I could and I did, year after year. As I got older, their amazement turned to scorn, and even my closest friends weren't above taunting me for staying inside with a book while they roamed the streets. My mother was hard pressed to explain it to the neighbors, who probably thought my failure to join in the Halloween parade was part of her legendary overprotectiveness. After all, what kid voluntarily stays in the house on Halloween night when the entire neighborhood is crawling with kids and free candy?
My son's attitude toward the holiday was a polar opposite. He was three years old on his first full-fledged Halloween, and dressed as a cowboy with his six-shooter holstered proudly on his side. He would have stopped at nothing to get to every house on our street and fill his little sack with candy. There was one darkened house where the owners were obviously away or not interested in feeding the neighborhood's sugar addictions. Undeterred, he marched around to the back door to see if he could rouse someone, while I stood at the curb cringing.
Over the years since my childhood - and even my son's childhood - Halloween has become an extremely popular holiday. People in our area decorate their houses with lights, huge inflatable pumpkins, and scary scenery. There are a couple of places we pass on our morning walks where I actually avert my eyes to avoid a very realistic corpse dangling from a tree.
Personally, I find these kinds of displays in poor taste. But then, I don't love Halloween.
I'm no longer afraid of the holiday, at least not like I once was. It's easy to avoid now- none of the houses on our street even give out candy. There are no sidewalks here, and the houses are far apart and set back from the road, making it more effort than its worth when there are much better places just across the main road at the end of the street. If I were to mark the day at all, it would more likely be as All Saints Day on November 1, the Christian holiday of remembrance for those who have died, especially during the past year. In fact, we did that at our church yesterday, calling special attention to the Memorial Wall where the names of several hundred departed church members have been inscribed over the past 25 years. Our minister read the "roll call" of those who have gone on to The Church Triumphant (which I think is a very fine expression.)
So tonight I'll be inside in my favorite costume - my fuzzy flannel pants and a thermal tee shirt or a pair of medical scrub sets purchased from
Of course there will be treats - maybe some popcorn or chips and dip, two of my favorite salty addictions. I'll curl up tight with a good book and tonight's episode of Dancing With the Stars.
No tricks. Not one.
How about you? Do you love Halloween? How do you celebrate?