Friday, November 1, 2013

on the halloween holiday...

I had a sort of strange and miserable Halloween holiday yesterday. I woke up feeling like the world was spinning and climbing out of bed only made it worse. But, yesterday was Melanie's birthday and we were supposed to walk (we walk Tues, Thurs, Sat & Sun), so I got up and had breakfast thinking a shower and food would help. Nope. I could barely walk straight without falling over, I definitely couldn't drive, so we postponed our walk for today and I went back to bed where I spent the whole morning and part of the afternoon. The second time I woke up wasn't any better than the first and I spent the rest of the day feeling horrible.

But what made it strange was that even though it was Halloween, and even though we did end up going out to get Subway around 7:30 p.m., I never saw a single person dressed up for the holiday. I suppose I was in the wrong places, I'd almost definitely have seen someone in costume had I gone to, say, Wal-Mart. Still, it's the first Halloween I've had in years where it felt like any other day of the year--a side-effect of being without children. We don't get trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood and never have. In the 9+ years we've been living here we've never had a knock on the door on Halloween. No munchkins begging for candy. No inappropriately trick-or-treating teens. Nothing.

And I noticed something when we were out getting food that was a little bit unsettling. All of the neighborhoods we drove through, ours included, were remarkably dark. No kids in costume walking up and down the street, no house lights on. Again, nothing. Matt drove particularly slow to avoid potentially hitting kids that might be in the road, but there weren't any. It actually made me a little bit sad to see the empty streets. I told Matt that back home, last I knew, kids still went door-to-door trick-or-treating. My folks still buy candy to hand out. While here it's a tradition that's morphing into a short community event, rather than something kids venture out in packs to celebrate with their neighbors.

Here, instead of kids going from house to house, our community does a safe trick-or-treat event in the town square. While I love the idea that I live in a town that has a town square, and the idea that our community cares enough about it's kids to host this sort of events where all the businesses in the square hand out candy, this is the sort of safe community where door-to-door trick-or-treating might still be safe. We don't live in a city, we live in a small college town. Most people don't even lock their doors, yet many aren't willing to share this holiday with their neighbors the way they once did. And, I remember that several times when I was a kid our mall hosted an event where the businesses gave kids candy. But for us it wasn't something we did instead of door-to-door trick or treating (at least not most of the time). It was something we did in addition to our usual festivities.

I suppose, though, that it's been a long time since I've really celebrated the holiday at all. Which, in all honesty, makes me a little bit sad. As a kid, Halloween was a big deal for us and while I know it's a pretty big deal for most kids, it was an especially big deal for us. Since mom had a daycare in our home that was constantly filled to capacity, we had a huge Halloween party every year. It became so popular that kids that we're even actively enrolled, along with their parents, showed up to celebrate with us. There was candy, apple bobbing in it's various forms, a pinata, tons of food. Everyone dressed up and there was Halloween music, like "Monster Mash." It was huge fun.

In the years since then, Halloween at my parent's house has turned into something smaller and more intimate. Mom hasn't run a daycare in years, but since I have a little sister who loves Halloween--a love of the holiday I really think mom installed in her--Halloween rarely, if ever, goes by uncelebrated. They have friends over, make a huge pot of chili and cornbread (a tradition since I was a kid), and hand out candy to kids. Candi still dresses up and she's 24 years old now. Case in point, check out these amazing Halloween treats Candi made for this year's Halloween get together:

Crazy, right? That girls has mad talent. They were having some family friends, my aunt, and my cousin and her little girl over for the holiday.

So, for me not to celebrate Halloween is particularly strange, but has become a sort of thing with us. Matt doesn't much care about the holiday and I don't have friends who celebrate it beyond the fact that it's my best friend's birthday. No costume parties, no handing out candy to kids... I just have no reason to celebrate. Even when I was working at the university--a job I'm hoping to return to in January--I don't remember seeing many students dressed up for Halloween. Some did, of course, but not as many as you might think would. Maybe they wait until after class to dress up for their parties and bar-hopping? I don't really know. And, you know, every year I think about getting a pumpkin to carve. When it comes time, though, I never do it. I walk past them in Wal-Mart, but never pick one up, even though I really want to carve one and put it out on the steps.

Maybe next year I'll make a more concerted effort to celebrate the holiday. Then again, maybe not. Maybe it's just something I'm going to have to let go since I don't have kids. What I know is that I miss the days when Halloween was something to look forward to, rather than the holiday that made me say "Ugh," while trying to resist the urge to put 2,000,000,000,000,000 bags of Halloween candy in my buggy at Wal-Mart. ^.^

So how did you spend your Halloween? I hope it was less depressing than mine turned out to be.

Credit: I stole that picture from Candi's Facebook page.