The weather is finally cooling off. Sunset-colored leaves are falling from the trees and drying up to create that satisfying underfoot crunch. There are pumpkins stacked in Instagram-worthy heaps being sold by the roadside. More and more miniature graveyards pop up in front of houses and life-sized skeletons are posed performing all sorts of important skeleton chores. *Contented sigh*
Could anything be more beautiful?
I’ve always had an affinity for Halloween but it wasn’t until adulthood that I became completely enamored with all things spooky and candy-centric. If I had to psychoanalyze myself I’d say I’m probably making up for a childhood of “meh” Halloweens.
I grew up an only child in a small town. We lived out in the country and our nearest neighbors were basically at least a half-mile away in all directions. No one trick-or-treated, so no one decorated. There wasn’t much point to putting in the effort if no one was going to see it anyway. The only decorations I can ever recall having were some giant orange plastic bags with jack-o-lantern faces we stuffed with newspapers. I pretty much immediately jumped on one (because what kid can resist that sort of temptation?), ripped through the cheap plastic, and got into trouble. Boo. No pun intended.
My mom would take me to my grandparents’ houses to trick-or-treat and we’d hit up a few of their neighbors. There wasn’t a slew of Halloween parties, church fests, or trunk-or-treating events. It was NOTHING compared to the month-long, jam-packed, multi-costumed spookfest I now provide for my kids.
I was pretty excited when my best friends started having kids and letting me tag along to all the festivities. At long last I had children I could use as little wingmen to get me into all the fun events not privy to childless adults. I also finally had a house of my own and realized I could decorate as my wicked little heart desired. Oh, the possibilities…
It started out small. A bag of bones here, a glow-in-the-dark spider web there. Then next year perhaps I’d add some glowing eyes to the bushes and a giant spider in the yard. Before you know it, years had passed with my collection increasingly amassing after each yearly post-Halloween markdown sale.
Much like the disembodied vinyl head I bought for 50% off, I was hooked.
Was I decorating for the neighbors and their kids? Perhaps a bit. But more than that, I had found a way to express myself creatively. Decorating with ghoulish and gory things, trying my best to make my own horror movie tableaus, is fun for me. I get giddy thinking up the ways I can set a scene with the items I have and then plan out what I need to make to add to the experience.
One year I had a haunted nursery complete with an old creepy rocking horse and cradle I painted black. I made scary building blocks to hang on the wall. I had a mobile over the crib with faux bloody knives. There were plastic demon babies, some even animatronic. There were countless other details I painstakingly added to make things perfectly spine-chilling. It was a masterpiece indeed, and not one for the faint-of-heart or the preschool crowd.
Throughout my life, I’ve heard people gripe about teenagers trying to trick or treat. Halloween is for CHILDREN, they say.
I attempted trick or treating with friends as a teen and was met with a lot of disdain and some downright hostility. So the next years I ended up at parties with unsavory things going on. Probably would have been better for us to be dressing up like ghosts and goblins and ringing doorbells for candy, rather than dressing up like Playboy bunnies and drinking Natty Light. But what do I know? Halloween is for CHILDREN.
I have recently read posts on social media from some of my more delicate friends complaining about having to see cemetery scenes, skeletons, and other slightly macabre creepy-crawlies outside of homes that they pass by on their daily comings and goings. They act as if these themes haven’t been a part of All Hallow’s Eve for YEARS. Clutch your pearls if you must my dearies, but even just a quick Google history lesson about the origins and evolution of Halloween will show that it really isn’t a holiday built for the kiddies.
I apologize if you deem my choice of Halloween decor “too scary”. I’m not doing it to offend. If your kid wants candy from my house, the price is having to walk through my pet graveyard and under a few severed heads hanging from my porch. And yeah, there are like 4 or 5 life-sized skeletons…and a gigantic Great Dane-sized hairy spider. What’s the big deal? I’m sorry I traumatized your 3-year-old, “Susan”, but do you want some darn Reese’s or not?
Ahhh, but I jest. What I am trying to get at is that Halloween, like most everything in life, is for EVERYONE. If a polite teen in a costume knocks on your door, give them some candy and do it without a snide remark about them being “too old for trick-or-treating”. If a little kid forgets to say thank you for their candy after already being prompted by their parents at a million houses before yours, cut them some slack. It’s just a Jolly Rancher. There’s no need to shame them and ruin their fun.
Lastly, if you take issues with the crime scene I’ve got going on in my front yard, no need to call the authorities. I was probably being facetious when I said the bones in the yard by the foam tombstones were from the last person who complained about my decorations. Probably.
I wish to ALL of you, young and old, a safe Halloween. May your pumpkin pails overfloweth with sugary confections, glow-in-the-dark fangs, and cheap plastic spider rings!