Friday, October 30, 2009

Hallow what?

Oh, how I hate Halloween.

It has little spiritual significance. It glorifies evil. From an autism perspective, the costumes present enormous sensory challenges. It is the ultimate exception to the rule about trespassing. And it causes cavities!

Nonetheless (like Barney) my kids covet it all the more because of my objections.

In years past, I have downplayed it by suggesting we go to the Harvest Festival at a local church, leave town, darken the house and take in a movie. I have told my teens they are old enough to pass out the candy at the door. All to no avail. The lure of a once-a-year binge on artificial coloring and high fructose corn syrup wins out every time. Will they ever outgrow this juvenile display of immediate gratification?

My most successful work-around has been the Great Candy Trade-In whereby I purchase the likes of Christmas gifts which they "buy" from me at the end of trick-or-treating so as to eliminate the toxic intake of sugar and dye but retain some sense of euphoria.

Annually, I procrastinate getting involved, hoping that I can avoid it this year. I find the neighbors' obsessions with ghouls and goblins, demented decorations and haunted patios more than a little disconcerting. At the eleventh hour though, I scramble to avoid embarrassment and be responsible for the only child at school without a costume. I cave, comply, conform. (Is this becoming a theme?)

Stubbornly resisting the status quo, but ever the dutiful mother down to the wire again, I texted Jim at Party City last night at 6pm: "get a wig for Reid to take to school"

He texted me back two choices: a Donald Trump or Florence Hendersen. As I deliberated (there must be a third option), this command arrived: "$15 should i get it or not"

He was surely next in line and famished. Party City is mobbed on October 29th at 6pm. I knew he was having his own crisis. Not there by choice, he had to buy black hair paint to impersonate Elvis Costello in order to fulfill his responsibility to participate in Costume Day at his office.

It is wonderful to be a united front and share so many critical moral stances with this man I've loved for 23 years. I can't decide what I love more, the fact that he hates Halloween as much as I do or that he will never consider Grecian Formula.

I passed on both wigs, saved 15 bucks, and put off the inevitable until this morning.

With the bus waiting at the curb, I threw a Zabar's apron and a chef's toque into Reid's backpack. He dressed in a flash donning his Whole Foods t-shirt. The tricky part was telling him what to say in reply to the perpetual question, "What are you?" I hastily told him to say he was a cook at Whole Foods. So lame. We can't be bothered.

Despite my Scrooge-like attitude, I have amassed some pleasant, if not amusing, Halloween memories which came flooding back to me as I wondered if Reid had heard anything I said. Now I feel like a Jehovah's Witness who doesn't celebrate birthdays but will remove the candles and eat my cupcake in an adjacent room.

There was the Chronicles-of-Narnia year when Reid wanted to be Mr. Tumnus--the half goat, half man Lucy first befriends. I put a little effort into finding tights, designing hooves, leathery ears; after all this brainstorm was literature-based! As darkness approached that night, Reid changed his mind proclaiming he'd be Edmund now.

A kid after my own heart! Easy cheesy! He stayed in plain clothes and I grabbed a faux fur pelt we'd stashed in a sensory bin. Off we went on a blue streak to as many houses as possible in the time allotted. Eventually the fur went by the wayside and Reid looked like himself. The friendly lady at the next house inquired on cue, "What are you?" Reid's reply, "I'm a boy."

There was the year we worked diligently to reinforce the "stay on the welcome mat" concept.

"Ring, but don't go in."

"Where do you wait?"

"Are you on the mat?" we chimed repeatedly.

He only entered the houses where television was on. Progress is certain; now he has it down pat.

There was the year we made a yellow sandwich board out of a retired science fair poster. Holes were hand drawn after dinner to imply SpongeBob. Totally pathetic, I know. And somehow impressive too, given our limited investment of time and thought.

There were several years, Allie wrangled me out to Target on October 28th or 29th to choose the least obnoxious of the picked over, store bought costumes. We have in our possession the absolutely tackiest, 200% polyester girl pirate, Cinderella, and ladybug costumes you've ever seen. All were purchased under duress in acquiescent desperation only after total avoidance had failed me.

There was the year Jim loaned his gigantic black afro wig to Reid at dusk.

There was the year I handed out gum because at least it offers proprioception.

There was the year I gave out raisins.

There will be a year I give out toothbrushes.

Every year, I recycle the candy collected and put it back out on the stoop by 8pm. True confessions.

Halloween; I'm just not that into it.


  1. you say "zabars" and it confirms once again why I like "ya'll" so much :)

  2. I agree. I'm just not in to it. Although, it does give me a chance to see and interact with my neighbors at least one night a year. If for no other reason, I will continue dragging myself around with my kids. Fortunately, they aren't that into it either and we only have to do our street.

  3. Andrea:

    I loved reading this post. Thanks for sharing! I can't understand why everyone loves the macabre decore so much, either. You are stronger than me about the sugary junk, too. Maybe I should also toss it after a certain time period.

    My biggest peave is the starting tomorrow, the day after Halloween, every store will be praying Christmas music. I love Christmas, but what happened to Thanksgiving? Taking time to be thankful? We push right on by.

    Oh, well. Thanks for your wonderful post!


  4. My mother did not make costumes, and so I made really enthusiastic costumes for Colin who HATED them. I finally gave up and let him be a ghost several years in a row (despite my spiritual objections) like his Halloween idol --Charlie Brown . . . and no matter how many times I try to patiently explain to my mother-in-law that we try not to eat things the color of toilet bowl cleaner, she will insist upon giving him a pound bag of Skittles every year. *sigh* It's over for another year.

  5. For Halloween, I was something really great: a dad.

  6. Great post! You are a woman after my own heart. I just wasn't into it at ALL this year. Just found your blog. Its great!

  7. I love Reid's "I'm a boy" answer - that about sums it up for us. We don't do Halloween. Although, I did let them participate in the 'Halloween parade' at their schools and wear costumes - I guess I'm caving and conforming too. There's so much pressure to love Halloween these days.

  8. We love all the holidays here at our house. Halloween is no exception. It took my son a few years to really "get" into Halloween. At first, he wanted nothing to do with it. Now he loves it and looks forward to it!