I’m really glad Halloween is over because it has always confused me. It started when I was young. Growing up in a Catholic family, most holidays had a connection and a compulsion to include church services. But not Halloween. That was a holiday that seemed just for kids. Sure, some adults dressed up as they handed out candy, but it was the children who got so excited, spending weeks arguing about the best costume to buy or make. It didn’t help my confusion that I was often too sick, at least according to my mother, to actually go out and Trick or Treat. So usually I only got to wear my costume as I answered the door and passed out candy. Knowing that I got the leftovers made me less than generous with the goodies.
I really enjoyed the lack of church as part of the festivities. Officially it was All Souls Day, which I later discovered was just a way to coopt dia de los Muertos from Mexico. But it didn’t matter since church wasn’t required and that’s all I cared about. And candy of course. Candy was not a big part of my diet. My mother’s plan to prevent cavities was to limit my sugar consumption. One could argue that it worked pretty well since I have only had one cavity in my life. The point is that Halloween was the one time of year I got more candy than my usual allotment. Provided that I actually got to go door to door or had leftovers.
Then I got old enough to be embarrassed about the whole thing. I forgot about costumes and did my best to get out of candy duty. Until I got to college and was invited to Halloween parties. I must admit that refreshing adult beverages beats out Hershey’s offerings any day of the week. But there I was doing the whole costume thing again. But, as a poor college student, buying candy to hand out wasn’t in the budget. By the time I had a real job again, and could afford candy, the whole country started a freak-out over Halloween. Between the Evangelicals portraying the holiday as Satan worship and news stories about candy laced with razor blades, needles, and other sharp objects, Trick or Treating became a political and social conundrum. My wife and I went back and forth over whether we should buy candy and encourage children to come to our door begging to go into a diabetic coma. Then, we moved to the mountains and often didn’t have a single kid come to the door even when we did buy candy. Which meant she and I had to eat all of those chocolate bars ourselves. Oh, the humanity!
Once we had kids of our own, more confusion ensued. By then, profits for candy makers outweighed religious objections and malls began passing out candy to assuage parental fear of sharp objects. So, once again, we vacillated. Some years we handed out candy but we didn’t let our sons participate. Then Grandma made costumes so we broke down and let the boys wear them and go to parties (sans refreshing adult beverages) but not door to door. Then our neighbor kids showed up at the door and guilt drove us into buying and distributing candy as well as letting our boys go out begging too. Of course, they grew up and out of that after our boys outgrew Trick or Treating so you’d think our dilemma would be resolved. But it’s not. Furthermore, the retail trade has made things worse. Exhibit A is that Christmas merchandise goes on sale three weeks before Halloween even gets here.
Frost hadn’t even killed off my garden before stores started playing Christmas music this year. My neighbor (a mentally challenged individual) is so confused that he put up both Halloween decorations and Christmas lights. I understand and sympathize. When I was growing up, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was the official start of the holiday season. I miss that. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because of the lack of church among other reasons. Plus I love turkey, cranberries, and stuffing. It’s a taste sensation that’s hard to beat. It’s a holiday where no confusion retards my enjoyment. But now Christmas tramples all over it.
I suppose I should just see Halloween as the initial phase a long holiday season. And maybe that’s the real source of my confusion. Too many holidays in too short of a time. I recently read that Colorado ranks near the bottom of all the states in terms of Halloween celebrations. I take issue with that. Their methodology was to compare how much money each house spent on Halloween candy and Colorado was below average. What’s interesting to me is that Colorado consistently ranks as one of the healthiest states. I think there’s a connection between that statistic and the other. I think people in my state do a better job of buying only the candy they need to hand out instead of buying excess amounts in order to have leftovers to consume.
If that’s the case then I did things right this year. I handed out candy but only have a small bag leftover. My waistline and doctor will thank me.