Last year, after remarkably discovering the BEST neighborhood for Trick-or-Treating (complete with full-size candy bars and good-natured homeowners who performed a jolly good ruse), along with Chipotle’s offer of $3 burritos if you wore a costume, plus getting to watch a parade of dogs dressed up, I pronounced to my family, and now to the world, that Halloween is my favorite holiday. I hesitate to announce this sentiment out loud when considering that I wasn’t even allowed to Trick-or-Treat when I was growing up. The church always provided “Harvest Festivals.” These parties, complete with games and prizes, were provided as an alternative to going door-to-door carrying gigantic pillowcases inviting strangers to fill them with more candy than a child could possibly eat in a year. These alternative festivals were provided perhaps as shelter from exposure to the ghosts and goblins roaming the streets, or possibly to prevent cavities. Of which reason, I’m not entirely sure. Nonetheless, Halloween was not a holiday that my family capitalized upon in my youth.
Maybe I stumbled upon the realization that Halloween is my favorite holiday specifically last year because the weather was so unpredictably wonderful! We didn’t even need to cover our costumes with umbrellas on an autumn night in Seattle. Or conceivably, the 90% off sale on Halloween costumes and décor that Target offered the day after the holiday added to my admiration. And, undeniably, having our entire family eat at Chipotle for less than $20 did indeed concretize my fondness for October 31st. However, it was actually all that was not present that evening that illuminated my newfound joy.
Unlike many other holidays, there was no labor. Costumes were purchased online. Candy was bought pre-packaged and ready to hand out. Instead of toiling in the kitchen for an entire day before sitting down to enjoy fellowship around the table, dinner was made for us and happily served at a discount (because let’s face it, watching five high-school football players walk in either wearing a skin suit or a dress makes one happy to give a discount). Later that night, we walked from house to house giggling at all the costumes we witnessed and admiring all the decorations we saw. And after every “Trick-or-Treat”, the kids would run back to Karl and I waiting hand-in-hand on the sidewalk exclaiming what exquisite delight was just dropped in their buckets. Their mouths watered in anticipation of eating bite-size Milky Ways or mini packages of Skittles, or savoring my favorite, Laffy Taffy.
House after house, each homeowner opened the door grinning from ear to ear to see babies dressed up like Elvis, or a Corgi puppy wearing a taco, or siblings going as Batman and Robin. And those that didn’t want to buy candy or bother staying up late to pass it out simply communicated so by keeping their porch lights off. How is Trick-or-Treating anything but a win-win for everyone? Neighbors gave by passing out candy and received by witnessing youth being playful and frankly, quite entertaining. Even as I write these words I have a smile on my face remembering how much fun we had last year.
I wish every special day was so much more about pleasure than obligation; the “want-tos” instead of the “shoulds” and “have-tos.” There seems to be so many expectations for every other major holiday.
What about Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or birthdays makes me tired and overwhelmed and stressed out just thinking about?
My answer has little to do with anything but expectations – either mine or someone else’s. So then, what expectations are there for Halloween? I’m sure if I thought really hard, I could play the devil’s advocate (pun intended) and figure out something to retort. But instead, I’m just going dressing up my little owl and my little midnight huntress, put a curly multi-colored clown wig and red nose on Karl and jump into my own blue skin suit and hope that tonight will be as great as it was last year.