Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween to all my friends who celebrate!

As a little girl, my family didn’t celebrate Halloween and, honestly, I don’t feel like I missed out. If Halloween fell on a week day during my elementary school days, we got to stay home and eat the candy that my parents bought for us. Then we’d have a very unhealthy supper, courtesy of my father, and watch some Disney movies. My parents made the day special for us without the costumes or going door to door asking strangers for candy. Sometimes, though, when I was in my bed and I could hear older kids still out yelling “Trick or treat!”, I couldn’t help but feel a little left out.

When Brian and I bought our first house, we decided to hand out candy. We were in a neighbourhood filled with little ones and I felt weird not handing out candy. And in no time, I fell in love with the fun of trick or treating. One of our first kids was very young. This must have been his first time out and, judging by his bucket, we were his first house. From inside the house, all we saw of this little boy at first was a pair of hands spread on the glass panel of our front door and heard a muffled “No, buddy, you gotta knock.”

When we opened the door, he scampered inside towards our dog, who hates Halloween as much as American dogs hate the Fourth of July. His dad caught him and brought him back saying, “No, you stay outside and say ‘Trick or treat!’.”

He just looked at me with his wide little eyes and said nothing. So we filled his bucket with candy. Then as he turned, his mom said, “Now what do you say?” in that voice we have all heard when a parent is trying to teach their kids to be polite. So the little guy turned back and whispered, “I love you.”

I was sold on the celebration that day. It’s fun watching the little guys parade up and down the block asking for candy and, I think, builds community a little bit as you meet the people you live around. There are two things I don’t love about this day though: the selfishness and the fear.

The selfishness is obvious. As kids get older, some of them get it into their heads that they deserve one thing or another and turn their noses up at the free candy they are getting from their neighbours or they give attitude to the people giving them free stuff. We have all seen it. Super obnoxious. I think it’s part of the reason my parents didn’t like the day when I was growing up.

The other part is the fear. As someone who grew up with a very vivid imagination and a penchant for empathizing deeply with fictional characters, lots of things frightened me. I still have nightmares after watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre with my friends when I was fourteen. And I don’t love that we as a culture subject ourselves to gruesome images and psychological creepiness for a thrill around this time of year. I’m not judging anyone who loves horror movies or anything of the like, but I know that it’s too much for me.

Especially now that I have kids. It’s not even the fact that I don’t want my kids to ever get into that stuff. I mean, if they become horror junkies and love the genre, that’s their choice, not mine (well, except when they are young. Then it’s my choice). It’s more that the mention of violence towards kids can give me a panic attack. For example, I am currently reading City of Dragons by Robin Hobb (which I’m enjoying immensely) and there is one small detail of a severed child’s hand in a box. The description is maybe a sentence long and not even that detailed. The only word used to describe it is “pleading.” I read it about an hour before bed and I stayed up half the night unable to get the image out of my head. I thought of my son and all the things he’s been doing lately with his little hands. He just learned how to clap a couple of weeks ago. He loves sucking on his fingers. When he was around 3 months, he used to reach his hand up to my face and hold my chin while I fed him. To think of anyone harming that hand makes me physically ill.

And, for me, avoiding fear is something I struggle with on a daily basis. We are going to have another baby in January and every time I have a contraction, I fear that labour is starting early. We have an ultrasound scheduled at the end of next month to dispel concerns our doctor has and I worry every day what it will show. I worry when Monkey wakes up in the middle of the night crying because he’s been having night terrors (where he seems awake and terrified, but is still deeply sleeping and all I can do is watch as he thrashes and screams in his crib because waking him would only make it worse). I worry when he doesn’t wake up at night because what if he’s suffocated himself? When fear is something I don’t want to experience every other day of the year, why would I invite it now?

So we avoid the scary decorations and costumes, opting instead for something lighthearted. There are no tricks in this household, only treats. Though there is a dog who won’t shut up everytime the door bell rings. He’s kind of scary.

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The scary (read: loud) dog and his polar bear buddy.

What about you? Do you love Halloween or hate it? How about the scary stuff? Tell me all about in the comments!

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