Thursday, October 27, 2011

Not In The Spirit

by Joyce

I am quite possibly the only person in the world who hates Halloween.

Everywhere I go I see skeletons, monsters, giant spiders, vampires, you name it. My neighbors have a severed hand and cobwebs on their mailbox. Another neighbor up the street has a giant blow-up combination pumpkin-ghost thing with a stomach that has things flying around like a snow globe. Who the hell thought that one up?

I didn't used to mind it so much. Back when I was a kid in the dark ages, we dressed up and went trick or treating as soon as it got dark. We'd grab a pillow case and only went home when it was full. We'd walk for miles (or maybe it just seemed like miles). The candy would last until Christmas.

When my own kids were small, hubby would take them out and I'd stay home and give out the candy. And their costumes were always home made. We had a Smurf, a dice, a cowboy, a crayon, Batman, Ninjas, Power Rangers, and some I've forgotten. I'd have to get out the photos. The best costumes were the Union and Confederate uniforms they wore one year. I vowed to never sew another costume after that. They about did me in.

It seems to me that Halloween has lost its spirit. And I don't mean the ghostly kind. It used to be a fun time when people would use their imaginations and come up with clever costumes. No one wanted to have the same costume as anyone else. We put hours and hours into the planning, and more hours into making the costume, all the while never breathing a word of it to our friends because we didn't want it to be copied. Now people just go into any store and buy the same thing that hundreds of others are wearing.

People must be making up for the lack of imagination in choosing costumes by going over the top with their decorations. I don't get how anyone thinks a skeleton hanging from a tree draped with purple and orange lights does anything to boost their curb appeal. What's wrong with just having a nice fall welcome plaque and a plain old pumpkin, like I have?

Do I sound crotchety? Good. I am. Or maybe I'm missing the good old-fashioned Halloween. The one where kids actually said "Trick or treat," before you dropped a candy bar into their bag. Or gasp! Actually said "Thank you," when you did.

There is one consolation though. I don't have anyone calling me on the phone asking when Halloween is.

How about you? Has Halloween lost its spirit? Have you lost yours?


Annette said...

Joyce, I'm so focused on my revisions, I haven't had time to think about Halloween. Okay, I take that back. I've thought of buying candy for our non-existent trick-or-treaters so that I can eat it all myself. But I do enjoy some of the decorations. One house near here has a gazillion tombstones in their yard. Another has an honest-to-goodness hearse parked in the yard with crime scene tape around it and a few zombies or something lurking around the trees. I figure they've put considerable time and effort into it. Me? I have a small wooden jack-o-lantern, a gift from a friend, sitting on my desk. That's it.

Joyce Tremel said...

Keep repeating revisions are fun. Revisions are fun. Revisions are fun. Oh hell. No they're not.

My word verification is "forgivex." My protagonist Irma Jean might take issue with that one.

Annette said...

No, Joyce, they are not. In fact, they're scaring me more than any Halloween goblin.

Forgivex? Sounds like some some chemical you're supposed to sprinkle on the people who screw you over.

Anonymous said...

Preach it, Joyce! Halloween is for little kids. Now that mine are teens, I have no use for it. What makes matters worse is that my neighborhood's one that surly out-of-town teens get driven to for desultory, often rude, trick-or-treating.

I'm trying to talk my wife into imitating our neighbors, whose kids are a bit older: Lock up tight at 5:00 and head out for dinner and a movie. Give me a few more years and I think she'll buy in.

Joyce Tremel said...

Yay, Steve! I'm glad I'm not the only one.

Our "official" hours for trick or treating are from 6pm to 8pm. I like the tiny kids who come to the door early. But like you, I find the older kids rude. I can't remember the last time one of them said "thank you." I close the door and turn out the porch lights precisely at 8. If anyone dare rings the bell after that, they get THE LOOK. Talk about scary.

Karen in Ohio said...

Boo, humbug, Joyce!

Halloween is the most creative "holiday", are you kidding me? All those graveyard scenes--they're all different.

We have a costume party every couple of years. Not every year, because it would kill me. I decorate the entire first floor and the outside of the house, throw myself into creating matching costumes for my husband and myself, and make all kinds of food for the evening. The food always has some scary aspect, but in a sophisticated take, like squid ink pasta. And there's always a signature cocktail of the year.

As the oldest kid of four, I often made costumes for the clan, usually making our poor little brothers into girls. Then onto 35 years of child-raising, with tons of costumes for the three girls. Stop sign, angel, fairy princess, Laura Ingalls, dinosaur, clowns (three different kinds), etc. I once went to a costume party as Charlie Chaplin myself.

But I do miss what we used to say when we went out begging: "Keekle, keekle". Was that just a German thing?

Karen in Ohio said...

PS Maybe it helps that we have not had a trick or treater come to our door in more than 20 years?

Joyce Tremel said...

Karen, your Halloween sounds very creative. And your costumes were hand made! I rarely see that anymore. Too many people go only for the gore instead of the fun, like you do.

Joyce Tremel said...

No trick or treaters for 20 years! That could have a lot to do with it. They've really changed--even over the last few years. Some of the older kids don't even bother to put on a costume--they just grab a pillow case and go out.

Jenna said...

I didn't grow up with Halloween. We had something similar between Christmas and New Year, where we all dressed up in old clothes from the attic and went door to door and knocked and sang Christmas carols in exchange for treats. We got a lot of oranges, I remember, and even got in the newspaper once. I don't think they do it anymore. As for Halloween, I do notice a lot of kids not dressing up anymore. I think my 12 yr old will probably put his foot down this year. 8 yr old is still excited. He wants to be Mario or Luigi. I have to go out and rustle up a pair of overalls.

clpauwels said...

No, you're not alone! I'm mystified by the overkill that has become Halloween, from the garish lawn ornaments to the horrifying garb that passes for costumes. Yet another Hallmark-holiday excuse for over spending.

We stopped participating years ago. I'll stick with the corn stalks and maybe a pumpkin (uncarved!) or two.

Ramona said...

I like Halloween, although I keep my decorations simple: a pumpkin on the front porch. Although I don't dress up, I am happy to hand out candy. The kids in my neighborhood are polite, and I like seeing them getting bigger from year to year.

I'm probably in the minority, but I love the teenagers! I think if a teen has the gumption to dress up and ask for candy, it's endearing.

I promise to make up for this good humor and good will at Christmas, which I despise more with each passing year. :)

Patg said...

Sorry, I disagree, Halloween is the time to face your fears with some scary stuff. Yes, Fall/Autumn decor is good (I like holiday/season decorating) but the attention to detail for a night like Halloween is good for the spirit. Granted some stuff is overboard, but that's a matter of taste, and that can be overboard on everything. Look at some of the Christmas stuff, just from the taste POV.
The only thing I hate about store bought costumes is that they are all made in China.
Gosh, Joyce, I bet you hated that You-tube video of the Greatest Halloween decorated house that I helped pass around on FB. Just because it plays Thriller, I played it several times along with all the other times I've played the CD so I could ghoul march around the house.
Oh and I change my Google banner every day too. So many scary things.
No, I'm not with you on this one, Joyce. Viva la Halloween!!

Joyce Tremel said...

I love all the differences in opinion.

And don't worry, you Halloween aficionados. I still love you.

Anonymous said...

I hear you sister, Halloween has lost its luster for me, too. I don't decorate like I used to, I suppose because my kids are grown. Now my hubby and I leave the house and go our for a nice dinner, LOL.

Nancy Lauzon