Saturday, October 30, 2010

Charlie Brown notwithstanding

I am not into Halloween.  There I said it, one of those things you are not really supposed to admit.  Because everyone (well at least Americans) are supposed to L O V E Halloween.  "How can you not like Halloween?" or "Come on, it's FUN!" are the typical responses that I used to get when I would mention that I am a person who is not into carving jack-o-lanterns, dressing up or going to haunted houses.  I must admit that one of the ancillary benefits of being an American who does not live in American soil is that I don't have to defend my dislike of Halloween anymore.  

Sure I spent my childhood dressing up, trick or treating and whatnot, but truth be told I used to always ask my mom if I could stay home and give out candy rather than have to schlep all over the neighborhood. And only when she would force me would I go out, with my costume, join the huddled masses of going from house to house to troll for candy.  Mind you, this was back in the days where kids over the age of 6 trick or treated at NIGHT without adults.  While most kids I knew relished trick or treating and would have gladly stayed out the whole night going from house to house to fill up bags with candy (or that one house which went against the 1970's mores on Halloween and gave out apples).   Like other kids in my neighborhood I got a time limit for trick or treating, good years were when my mom only made me go out for an hour and bad years was when I had to go out for two hours or more.  I much rather preferred to stay home with my parents and their friends on those years they had friends over and listen to the adult conversations, dress up and do a fashion show of my mom's clothes, high heels, go go boots and jewelry and hand out candy to the constant stream of kids who came to the door. 

In college and into young adulthood I had to often come up with reasons why I couldn't go to parties and haunted houses and such.  I usually always either volunteered to work and then pretended I was disappointed or Halloween was the one night I just had to study or write a paper and dammit, just couldn't break free to join whatever festivities my friends were into that year.  As I got older and more confident in myself I used to just tell my friends I don't like Halloween and it was always met with incredulousness, and questions on how I could not like such a fun holiday.  

I don't have bad memories of Halloween or anything, it just comes down to a few simple truths for me:

1.  I don't like to dress in costumes.  I did marginally enjoy dressing up as a kid (although much preferred to play dress up with my mom's stuff than to dress up as Tinkerbell or a Television (both popular costumes when I was a kid) but as an adult I have no desire to think of a costume and dress up.

2.  I have never enjoyed being afraid.  Basically all the stuff Halloween commemorates -- Ghosts,graveyards, the supernatural and haunted houses scared the bejesus out of me when I was a kid and as an adult I could just never get into faking my fear or intrigue with that stuff.  I am also not one to ride roller coasters or other things.  What can I say? I'm not and never have been a thrill seeker.  Which is not to say that I am not adventurous, but definitely not a thrill seeker, at least not in the Halloween way.

3.  I could get all the candy I wanted at home, why did I need to schlep around in the cold, dark of night to get it?  Our house was always loaded to the gills with tons of cookies, candy and other good stuff.  We almost always had a cake or a pie lying around as well.  My parents had a lot of shortcomings as parents, but a fully stocked kitchen and pantry was never one of them.  Actually other kids frequently showed up at our house to partake in unadulterated snacking of junk food.  At my grandmother's house, they had a whole closet in their house dedicated to the cause of M&M's, Hershey Bars, Nestle's Crunch and Kit Kats on one shelf and a whole other shelf with case after case of Life Savers and other hard candies. What did I need Halloween for? It could be Halloween every night of the year for us if we wanted it.

As an aside, it's pretty amazing that my brothers and I grew up at all with all the junk food in our house.  Ironically though we also ate vegetables and based on how my daughter wouldn't go near a salad if her life depended on it.  We grew up not only eating vegetables and salad but loving them, particularly salad.  How did my mother pull that off?  

OK, back to our regularly scheduled program.

4.  I have never been into big group socializing.  People often react strangely when I say that I am shy in crowds because with anyone I know I can talk, talk, talk and plus I am loud and boisterous.  Still, it is true.  I've always felt uncomfortable in larger groups.  I clam up and basically just try to look like I am not bored out of my mind.  I am not good at small talk and always feel a little bit on display at parties or group gatherings.  I am just not good at starting up a conversation at a party, never have been.  

Halloween is one time where I am certainly glad to not live in the US anymore.  If I were there I know that I would feel torn every year with Maya on what to do.  Do I force myself, get myself and her all dressed up and pretend to love the ritual for her or do withdraw from Halloween completely and possibly, particularly in a Republican administration get put on some 'watch list' for not loving Halloween. 

Luckily I don't have to make those choices.  Happy Halloween everybody!

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you, Dana. I enjoyed trick or treat as a child and enjoyed dressing my own kids up and taking them around. But as a grownup I never felt any tug to continue this annual ritual. Even my own kids got sick of it after a certain age. Michael actually preferred to stay home hand out candy to trick-or-treaters.

    Sadly, after Halloween comes the commercial Holidays innundation. This is the time of year I really identify with Charlie Brown. I just can't deal with the external stimuli and stress that comes with it.