Halloween is still about a week away, but I feel like I’ve had enough of what I am now officially calling New Halloween to last me a decade. When did Halloween get so ridiculously super-sized like everything else in modern life? I hate to think I’m old enough to be talking about the good ol’ days, but that’s how I feel when it comes to Halloween — oops, I mean New Halloween. Is it really too much to ask that my kids be able to just put on a costume (or not), pull out a pillowcase, and knock on the neighbors’ doors for some mass-produced candy? And by the way, any candy would be fine. It doesn’t need to be specially manufactured for New Halloween and emblazoned with orange pumpkins, black cats and green ghouls.
Halloween is no longer just the 31st of October, no New Halloween insists on taking over the entire month of October. And it needs to, or you wouldn’t be able to complete all of the activities required by New Halloween. First and foremost New Halloween requires a trip to a pumpkin patch, and if my friends’ photos on Facebook are any indication, dressing your baby up like a pumpkin for that trip is also a requirement.
Adherence to the rules of New Halloween also necessitates decorating your house with everything from giant inflatable black cats (with fangs!) to festive twinkling lights (in orange and black, of course) to funny scenes you produce of severed limbs peeking out playfully from hay bales (so clever).
And last, it’s not enough to throw some candy in a bowl for trick-or-treaters. Oh, no. New Halloween is a holiday of thematic serving ware with matching treat cauldrons and witches brew mugs should you be greeted at the door by a thirsty child, or even, a thirsty parent. That’s right, New Halloween wants sustenance for the grown-ups as well. To which I say, are you effing kidding me? Why are the parents at your doorstep anyway? Isn’t Halloween supposed to be the one day the kids get to wander around the neighborhood unsupervised and causing mayhem?
Put this all together, and New Halloween gives me one big headache and one big heartache sigh. Once upon a time, Halloween was beloved by so many people like me precisely because it didn’t put any pressure on you. No matter your finances, your religion, your family status, it was a fun holiday for everyone.
New Halloween embodies all of the worst commercialism of the other Big Holidays. Kids who can’t afford fancy costumes feel bad. Kids who don’t want to wear costumes, even for perfectly good reasons, start a brouhaha you can’t even imagine as Ellen, another Jersey Mom, wrote about on her blog. Decorating your home for New Halloween has evolved to the point that there are even options for themes from the cute to the creepy as Jersey Mom Meghan discussed here last week in Make Up Your Mind.
In short, New Halloween sucks. I miss Real Halloween, the Halloween of my childhood when all you needed to celebrate was a bag of candy from the drug store, a pillow case for your haul, a sheet to cut-up for your costume, and a promise from your parents you could stay up late and watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
This is an orginal post for Jersey Moms Blog. Anna is a New Jersey mom.