I know at least twice over the weekend, I told someone that Halloween was my favorite holiday. People dressing up, acting like kids again, trick or treaters coming to the door and because I loved that holiday so much, I go all in decorating the walkway at our house.
Here’s a quick tour.
Most of my adult life, I’ve enjoyed decorating my house and/or porch for Halloween, going back to my Bothell days when I filled my yard with funny headstones. At this year’s Bothell Cougar auction where I was the emcee, one of the parents actually came up to me and said that she used to love coming to my home every year, to see the decorations, back when she was a kid. To me, it’s about making the holiday a little bit more special, especially in the eyes of a child. It’s scary but safe. Nothing’s going to reach out and grab them. It’s just fun stuff to walk by as they head to our door to get their candy.
Halloween is just simply a great day to be a kid! And, as adults, the day tends to bring out the kid in all of us. Maybe it reminds you of those cheesy costumes your parents would buy with the plastic masks that you couldn’t breathe out of, and that had the elastic band that would always break before you were done collecting candy. I remember one time, going to one of the homes in our neighborhood where they had what appeared to be a Halloween character on a bench…when he suddenly moved and said, “Boo!”
That feeling of being scared, just for a moment, is part of growing up. You’re talking to a kid who loved monsters and watched every Universal Frankenstein, Wolfman and Mummy movie over and over. I even collected those models you’d glue together.
As I got older, I would anxiously await Friday Nights when LA’s channel 9 would feature a different scary movie each week on their “Strange Tales of Science Fiction” that opened with this theme song.
It’s where I was introduced to such classics as “The Blob”, “Man from Planet X”, “The Crawling Eye” and “Frankenstein’s Daughter.” Back in those years, there weren’t a lot of haunted houses to go to, so we turned to our black & white TV’s to provide the scare.
Fast-forward to Halloween, 2022.
As you saw in the video above, I put up a bunch of silly Halloween-themed signs, a fake mummy, some plastic skeletons and so forth. It looks like friggin’ Halloween!
But I now live in Seattle, the Mecca for PC, non-offensive, safe, non-disturbing, the-fact-I-even-typed-those-words-offends-me surroundings. Last night, I was instructed not to turn on one of my Halloween decorations because it might scare the younger trick or treaters. Even with that turned off, there was one parent who came to the door to say that his 3-year-old was afraid to go to the house, so could he have his candy.
Back in my parenting days, what a perfect occasion to show that young, forming mind that it’s all just pretend. Look, it’s just a piece of plastic or a decoration. But I guess parents don’t do that these days. Rather than rationalize and explain, parents feed on whatever their kids give them and use it as an occasion to further shelter them. Over time, they’ll only know a safe and protected world, as long as mommy or daddy can helicopter nearby. My guess is the scariest books they have at home are the terrifying Halloween tales, “The Story of the Moldy Pumpkin”, and “Barbie’s Snickers Breaks.”
It not my goal to frighten young kids, but to maybe inspire some childhood Halloween fun like I enjoyed while growing up. Something they’ll remember when they get older. But I guess those days are done, at least where we live.
So, this afternoon, I’ll take down the decorations and at this point, I may not even put them back up next Halloween. For the twenty or so trick or treaters we had, and for all that effort I put in, to be told it’s harmful or too scary or psychologically damaging to a kid….yeah, I’m done.
One thing about the aging process: It really helps you prioritize the things you spend time on, as you realize that time is a precious commodity and so why would you waste any of it on something that is not personally rewarding or appreciated? Not that there weren’t several kids that said, “Cool decorations” last night, but that’s not the part that stuck with me.
Yes, Halloween used to be my favorite holiday, but I’m ready to move on. It was fun while it lasted, it truly was.
But I’m done. I’m giving up.
It’s all yours.