Gosh, I Hate Halloween

Gosh, I Hate Halloween October 31, 2019

There’s a big storm brewing that will make the business of collecting a lot of candy from friends and strangers more than usually fraught and uncomfortable. Many mile-an-hour winds, driving rain, cold, and power outages have been ordered up, probably by God, because he loves parents and wants to give them a break, just this one year.

My children are all in a frenzy, mainly about how the weather will affect their costumes, but also about the potential haul they will be able to accumulate if people shut off their lights in fits of sanity.

This year we have a Lucy from Narnia, a Useless Detective, a Young Winston Churchill, a Young Lady Astor (so the two can trade insults), Gwendolyn from The Importance of Being Earnest, and The Kid Clementina from Bertie and Jeeves).

The thing that always both amuses and irritates me is that young children—well, all children really—generally manage to fixate on the least important issue at hand. If it’s time to set the table for lunch, they don’t go get plates and cups and cutlery, they go in and shout at each other, over an empty table, about where everyone will sit and who will light the candles. If it’s time for school, they won’t go in and get their school books out and sharpen their pencils, they will wander around asking everyone if they want some tea, ‘because it’s time for school’ and will do that for half an hour and then be surprised about the shouting.

If it’s time for Trick or Treating, or the Trunk and Treat, or whatever ghastly custom a culture thinks up to create misery and unhappiness in the hearts of grown ups everywhere, they laser focus on the least necessary portions of a costume. So Marigold, for example, who wants to be Lucy from Narnia, has been perseverating for two weeks about which Lucy. The Lucy as queen at the end? But that’s bad because everyone will just call her a stupid princess. Or the Lucy who comes through the wardrobe in a big coat? But that’s so complicated because where do we get the exact right collar and the sweater, and no, it doesn’t matter that the book doesn’t say exactly what she was wearing, the movie did put her in a dress and sweater and we won’t be happy until we have that dress and that sweater. By ‘we’ I’m talking exclusively about her, of course. But then, also, even as the dress and sweater are nowhere in evidence, there is much wandering the house helplessly asking how she will affix her dagger to herself. Answers like, “The big coat, which we did find, will make it impossible for anyone to see the dagger so maybe we shouldn’t worry about it,” are completely unacceptable.

Indeed, moments like these are when the helplessness of certain children come onto full, ebullient display. Six months out they say to each other, ‘we should really figure out what we are going to be for Halloween.’ And there the matter rests for another three months. Then they take up the subject with enthusiasm once more, arguing with energy and vim, but still arriving at no definitive answer. Then, a month away, they finally announce one thing and another, explaining that they will begin the very next day, Tomorrow, to assemble the necessary items. But do they? No, they don’t, they wait another three weeks. In the days leading up to Halloween they flop and fret, they argue and discuss, all without actually going around the house, or even getting online, to acquire things like a Top Hat or a Long Black Robe.

Anyway, I forced the question last night and made everybody go around and find something, anything, and try it on, and now there is a big, exasperating pile of garments on the floor of the living room, a cat and a dog nestled in its capacious jumble, waiting for everyone to freak out again. Gosh I hate Halloween.

I know, I know, as good Christians we should be celebrating Reformation Day. I should also not sin and should just be a better all around person. But I’m not, which is the actual point of Jesus, who came to save me from myself.


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