Last night was Halloween, and there were ghouls and fools aplenty. All of our favorite shows were represented in various levels of costumed detail. Movies, too. Star Wars and superheroes, the staples of my own childhood, still remain firmly affixed upon those of my children. There were red balloons and orange buffoons, clowns from every angle.
The ratio of candy given to the amount received was squarely in their favor. They laughed. They had fun. They ate more sugar in one night than in the past six months combined. It was an evening of playful mischief and warmly lit wonder.
Man, I’m glad that’s over.
Except, and I’m not supposed to tell you this, it isn’t.
That may be because deadlines created by evil editors in eye shades are forcing me into actually writing this a week before, only pretending to have survived yet another Halloween. Or it may be because we live in a world so much scarier than anything the holiday can throw at us that we are destined to live out the rest of our lives (or the next three years, whichever comes first) in a very special episode of American Gothic, but slightly more racist.
Maybe it’s both.
The thing is, I’m having a hard time getting into Halloween this year. There are several reasons, including, but not limited to the aforementioned fact that nothing make-believe can compare to the terror of our actual reality. Knowing that, it makes conversations with my kids about costume choices and decoration options feel mocking and hollow, the gallows humor of a Target aisle.
Also, I quit eating candy.
Additionally, the boys themselves seem less than excited about Halloween this year, and as I typically fuel my enthusiasm from theirs, our home shows nothing to suggest the season but a couple of gourds rolling around our doorstep. The spiderwebs hung themselves.
For a while I thought that the boys may be apprehensive, seeing as each of them are in new, bigger schools than they were last year, and that they just needed some extra time to get a feel for how Halloween worked at the current level. I may have been too optimistic.
The oldest did have a costume idea that he seemed relatively interested in, where “interested” means he mentioned it once. He thought it would be fun to dress as Monty Python’s version of the Spanish Inquisition, which if you are familiar with the sketch, is quite funny. However, I had to point out that the context may be lost on some people, which would leave him as: a) a non-Catholic kid appropriating a different culture (the irony being that the Spanish Inquisition was established to deny others their respective culture through acts of great severity), and b) wearing religious stuff to a public school, which may or may not be against the rules, but certainly out of my comfort zone.
The youngest remains uncommitted.
I suppose my fear is that this is yet another milestone on the path out of childhood, the one where holidays, while still enjoyed, lose a bit of the magic that once made them monumental. They are no longer the pinnacle of a season, but rather Tuesday with a wig on it.
Factor in the heat (it’s over 100 degrees today), carry the one, allow for whatever, and you’ve got the great bupkis, Charlie Brown (rocks sold separately).
Honestly, I don’t know what will become of Halloween this year, if this is new for us or just a phase that we are going through. I’m pulling for the latter, and will do my best to keep the season, but at the end of the day, I just want my kids to have fun. We could all use a bit of that.
UPDATE: We did it. The boys picked out costumes on Monday after school while I went through the slim pickings of discount candy a couple aisles over. The youngest chose a werewolf mask, the oldest a decorative light. One cut shirt and a jigsaw later I found myself sitting in a neighbor’s house with a group of other parents (and the frequent passerby) watching the Dodgers take it to Game 7 while the boys enjoyed the safety of mob mentality, a pack of sugar-bellied kids knocking and laughing and hopefully saying “thank you.” They were back by the bottom of the 8th, taking the corner and rounding for home.
Last night was Halloween, and there were ghouls and fools aplenty.