Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween Rant

Sorry, all...but the soapbox is coming out again.  It's been hiding a while, I've been shoving it back in the closet since my last rant. 

It's stretched and warmed up and ready to go.

I'm annoyed about Halloween.  I said it.  There.

I love Halloween, don't get me wrong.  I do.  Anyone who's been witness to the insanity that is my costume planning in the last few years can attest to that.  I love the spooky nights, I love the campy horror films, I love the perfectly legitimate excuse to leave the cobwebs on my chandeliers.

I love Halloween.  It's clearly in second place on my list of favorite holidays, after the big one of course.  Though I would make an argument that in some ways I love Halloween even more than Christmas.  No emotional baggage, no requirement to spend a small fortune on gifts, none of that.  Just candy and costumes and fun. 

What I don't love about Halloween is society.

Back in the dark ages, you know...when I was a kid, (man, the world was a different place then), we could wear our costumes to school.  EVEN in Catholic school, we were allowed a one day departure from our mandated uniforms for the celebration of a pagan holiday.  GASP! 

I didn't last long in Catholic school since I got myself kicked out.  Public school was even less restrictive.  As long as the costume wasn't over the top gory and no one brought any weapons or other violent accoutrements, it was fair game.  Back then, the holiday still belonged to the kids.  It was fun, and the fun was actually encouraged by adults.  I can't say that I ever remember being irreparably harmed or academically distracted by my classmates wearing costumes. 

These days, costumes are forbidden.  Ally can wear hers, but only because she is in kindergarten and only during the thirty minute long class party.  Which is no longer a Halloween party by the way, it's now a  Fall Celebration.  The word Halloween is not to be uttered in school anymore...probably because at some point it offended some person who made a big stink about it.  And rather than deal with that one person whining, the holiday no longer exists.  Poof. 

Yeah, yeah, yeah....flame away.  School is for learning, not fun.  The kids are there to be taught, not have parties.  I get that.  But they are also kids.  And they are only kids once.  And kids....wait for parties with their friends.  Especially if those parties are allowed to last longer than half an hour at the end of the day. 


So they can't wear their costumes to school.  Fine.  Sadly, my kids have always had that reality and don't know any better.  They've never been allowed to wear them after kindergarten, and they don't even think about it.  They know that they get the allotted 30 minutes to sit quietly in their seats and not spill their juice and snack on their pre-approved healthy snacks.  Because that just screams party to me. 

As if the school hasn't managed to suck enough fun out of the holiday, our neighborhood adds insult to injury.  Every year that passes fewer and fewer people bother turning on their porch lights and handing out candy.  The people across the street hid in the back of their house and turned out the lights in the front of the house last year.   One of the streets in our neighborhood had one house handing out candy.  One

It doesn't help that we live in the land of the mega church, and mega churches love trunk or treat events.  Convince people that trick or treating in their neighborhood isn't safe or fun, and they will come....right?  Apparently it works, since more and more families around here go to them every year. 

Less people handing out candy + less kids trick or treating = less of a holiday tradition.

I am starting to sound like a crotchety old fart, complaining about how things were different back then.  The truth is, I like Halloween the way it used to be, back before it was corrupted by paranoia about child molesters, political correctness and federal mandates about instructional time in the schools (which, incidentally, have not improved school performance at all).  

I liked being a kid free to roam the streets filled with other children.  I liked that just about everyone handed out candy, and did it with a smile.  I liked wearing my costume to school and I liked seeing what all my friends dressed up as.

As for us, we are sticking to our guns.  We won't go to a trunk of treat event ever.  We will dress up and we will go door to door....even if the doors are fewer and fewer.    Though my kids may not be able to wear costumes to school, the girls will be rocking their candy corn striped tights and orange pettiskirts and Aidan will have on one of his skull t-shirts.  Hey, it's not a costume.

I follow the rules, but I follow them right up to the edge.

Like so many things, this is a holiday that is supposed to be about the kids.  I say we give it back to them.

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