31 October 2006

Happy Ghoul-iday To You, Too

For as long as I can remember, I've anxiously awaited the arrival of Hallow's Eve, the 31st of October. It was a magical night, one filled with caramel apples, cavities, clown makeup, and candy corn. It was a night (well, a day, really) to remember a miraculous event that happened in 1983: my birth. My anticipation of this day was two-fold; I looked forward to my birthday and to the holiday festivities. That is why Halloween has always been so important to me.

My costume was selected with great care weeks in advance, giving me plenty of time to perfect all the details - and to make sure no one else was going to steal my idea. I prided myself on creative costumes, not those $15 drugstore excuses made from flimsy fabric and old ideas. No, my Halloween ensembles were works of creative genius. Amelia Bedelia, complete with flower-studded cap and frilly apron; a gypsy, all decked out in bangles and scarves; Dorothy, with red glitter jellies that left sparkly footprints down the street behind me; a bag lady, outfitted in my grandmother's finest old dress and Easter hat.

The candy, too, was purchased with much thought (mostly which bag gave you the most for your money). My sister and I, of course, tried to persuade our mother to purchase something much tastier, and which we could pilfer just moments before the neighborhood ghouls and goblins arrived. She always won out, but we managed to bring home enough chocolaty goodness to make us forget her stubbornness.

Every year we would purchase a bale of hay from the feed store and fashion a scarecrow to sit upon it from crumpled newspaper, my Dad's old overalls, and a floppy straw hat. We'd buy pumpkins from the farmer's market, then spend the afternoon carving elaborate designs. That evening, we'd arrange the jack-o-lanterns and scarecrow on the front porch and step back to admire our Halloween flair.

I was known, too, for the fabulous costume birthday parties I would throw, complete with a dry ice cauldron of green punch, my mother dressed as a witch (it was the only costume she had besides the one she used for VBS, and somehow that didn't seem to fit the occasion), and a fabulously black and orange birthday cake. We'd play games like mummy wrap or bob for apples or paint our own mini pumpkins. Needless to say, a good time was had by all.

So, of course, Halloween has always been a big deal to me. (And apparently it's a big deal to Pottery Barn, too; on their website they advertised rush delivery for Halloween. Isn't that crazy?!) That's why I was expecially excited about having a house of our own this year where we could make our own jack-o-lanterns and give out candy to our own trick-or-treaters. In preparation, my husband and I purchased six pumpkins and one gourd to adorn our front porch, and we quickly proceeded to carve our house numbers into four of them and stack them like a snowman with Christmas lights inside. We also created a traditional jack-o-lantern to accompany this carving masterpiece (but that was mostly because we went to a party that featured pumpkin carving and Clay felt obligated to participate). We also purchased some delctable candy, erring on the conservative side only because we weren't sure how many kids might stop at our door...and because we were trying to switch dental plans and didn't want to get cavities.

The night of Halloween came and I, for one, was extremely excited to see what it held. The pumpkins were lit, and the candy was ready in a basket by the front door. My husband decided to tally the number of trick-or-treaters we had, and was poised with pen and pad in hand. We were ready.

The first trick-or-treater arrived about 6:00, a cute little five year-old in a turtle gear. Next it was a fairy princess and her pirate brother. Then, to my horror, a teenager showed up at our front door WITHOUT A COSTUME! I reluctantly gave this pimply-faced and red hoodie-wearing youngster a Cow Tale, all the while shooting mean thoughts his way. How dare he expect to receive candy without putting forth effort! I was irked. So when a group of middle schoolers showed up moments later, only one of which had painted a little blood dripping from the corners of her mouth, I was not happy. The next group of children who dared show their faces at our door were wearing awful store-bought costumes which were already unraveling at the edges. And at that, they didn't even say "Trick or Treat," but rather mumbled "Halloween" under their breath as they held out half-full plastic sacks. Fortunately for my sanity, there was a break in the flurry at our front door and I had time to consider how children were making such a joke of this blessed holiday. Whatever happened to putting some effort into your costume? Whatever happened to the traditions and the fun? These children were definitely being spoilsports.

So when the red sweatshirt-wearing teenager showed up again, I was too peeved to notice. It wasn't until my husband asked, "Haven't we seen that kid in the red sweatshirt before?" that I realized my mistake. The gall he had to show up once without a costume, but to do it a second time? This was unacceptable, utterly unacceptable.

58 trick-or-treaters and two hours later, I was left with an empty basket and feelings of bitterness towards Halloween in general. This is such a weak holiday, I thought. I mean, the premise is to dress up in a scary costume (in most cases) and knock on strangers' doors to receive free candy, which you don't say thank you for and which will most likely make you sick and/or give you cavities. There's no family togetherness factor, like Christmas, or wholesome food, like at Thanksgiving; it's a selfish and stupid holiday. It's just a ploy for the candy manufacturers to make more money, and that's just sick. I turned off the porch light, feeling like I had failed in my efforts to make this a great Halloween.

There was a knock at the door, and I was in such low spirits that I didn't get up to answer the door, hoping maybe that this kid would realize the light was off for a reason (it's the universal symbol for "We're out of Halloween candy," Duh.). But he didn't! He kept banging on the door until my husband threw it open and curtly informed the surprised youngster that we were out of candy.

What is happening to kids these days? They don't even know how to celebrate Halloween properly.

1 comment:

e. l. wood said...

i had a very similar experience at my house as well. i was glad to see others feel the same way i do about the entitlement mentality of trick or treaters.