It’s as if there’s a whole generation of people who have grown up thinking Halloween is real. Or at least something like a real thing for adults. Or maybe a real chance to let something that lives inside of them come out for a day. Or a night. Or a weekend. Something that they don’t let on to throughout the rest of the year, but let sweep over them each October along with millions of others who feel this way. Yes, it seems as though Halloween has become something like Mardi Gras for people who don’t live in New Orleans. A global celebration of – I’m not sure what. I don’t get Halloween. I mean, I did as a kid. I was great at busting ass running through the neighborhood with a pillowcase on October 31st. I always scored big. As I got older, I was bummed I couldn’t do it anymore. There’s an unwritten rule about when children are no longer permitted to ring doorbells on Halloween night. I think the cutoff is facial hair for boys, and breasts for girls. Except, there are more hormones in food these days and so now 3rd graders are sporting stashes better than mine. So I don’t know when the cutoff is. Forget it. Anyway, that’s all Halloween was when I was a kid – getting candy.
Then something happened. The kids who actually enjoyed dressing up, kept doing it. And they banded together to have lavish Halloween parties. And people had fun. So the word spread and then these grown-up kids in other towns who liked dressing up started throwing these grand masquerade-type parties. And then that was that, and the idea caught fire.
If social media is anything – it’s revealing. Yes, there are some people here who are always in character and talk only about business and never about life, but they don’t count. They’re automatons. But for most of the people I follow, these new ways to share are like portals into the psychology of individuals. Or at least it is for me. I like studying people. For example, since Friday night I’ve seen so many people in my Twitter stream post pictures of themselves dressed up in various garb that I’m convinced that I’m in the minority when it comes to thinking about Halloween strictly as a children’s thing. It’s not. It’s a massive business today – and not just for the candy companies. Especially not just for the candy companies. Think adult beverage companies. And costume companies. And land owners of dying strip malls who have tenants for a month or so that turn empty box stores gore palaces where people pay money to soil themselves.
No, I don’t get Halloween like most of you guys do. I don’t dress up – but for a werewolf mask and gloves that I bought a few years ago to wear at my kids’ Halloween party for 7-year-olds. We had a magician too. And a piñata.
So happy Halloween. And please, drive carefully through your neighborhoods tonight. Because whether you realize it or not, Halloween is still mostly about children running around with bags of candy. Or rocks.
2 CommentsLEAVE A COMMENT
Rhiannon FionnBowman (@RhiFionn)
Oct 31, 2011
I used to dig the holidays, but now I see them for what they really are, which you pointed out in your post: They’re big business. And because they’re big business I feel pushed, or at least heavily encouraged, to buy things I don’t want or need, things I don’t want to store or dust, things I might forget are in the attic anyway.
When I was a kid my mom made my costumes out of things we had around the house. Maybe that was lame, but I didn’t know any better. As a young adult I used to make my costumes and people thought they were cool. The reality was that I was spending a lot of money and time on them every year. I no longer have the time, or the interest in spending the money.
At some point I decided that, as you pointed out, the holiday was more for kids, so I don’t balk when my spouse pimps out the candy bowl, but I don’t buy any more decorations (we’ve got plenty already anyway; don’t get me started on the amount of energy they consume — I can totally convert their energy consumption into pounds of coal per hour); my husband puts them out in an effort to be like the neighbors who -love- Halloween a lot. It’s their thing, I don’t complain but neither do I get excited about what I see as a lot of waste.
The more I travel, the more I learn about the world, the more I understand what it takes to manufacture, ship, and sell a lot of the stuff in our stores and all of the packaging that stuff comes in (hint: it takes mass amounts of water and energy), the less likely I am to get into the holiday spirit. I’m not saying I’ll never go to another costume party, but it’s unlikely.
And, no, I’m not into going crazy on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s either. I’m in the what-I-already-have-is-good-enough and I-fix-broken-stuff-and-buy-used-stuff camp. I understand the vast poverty in our world and our limited resources, I understand that the water wars are next. Overeating and shredding paper that’s just meant to look pretty doesn’t do it for me anymore, just like buying decorations or killing a tree so I can participate in a holiday in the way society suggests I should.
Call me a Scroodge, but I’m trying to be the change. In other words, don’t expect a card or a gift from me this year, or any year in the future.
Oct 31, 2011
Totally agree with this. I stopped doing it when I was a kid, but got sucked back in for four years at UNC Chapel Hill. Still never got into the whole Halloween thing there, it was just another excuse to go out and have a party. I didn’t plan my costumes, I just went to a thrift store and bought a couple things or raided some stuff in my closet.
Making a big deal about dressing up on Halloween for anyone older than 13 is, in my opinion, very sad.