Where Did Halloween Go?
The weather has finally cooled to a comfortable 75 degrees, children are back in school, leaves are changing color and, soon, it will be dark at 7 pm. Autumn, my favorite time of year, has arrived. True to form, I pull out the Halloween decor, hang the Pyracantha wreath on the door and make my annual trip to the pumpkin patch where I snag pumpkins of all sizes and shapes and a few of those rust-colored seasonal mums that brighten my porch and my mood.
My next stop is Home Goods where I look forward to finding a reasonable black cat, ghost or witch decoration to replace the gently used ones I already have. I park at the far end of the lot to add a few steps to my nearly non-existent exercise regimen, open the door and step into a rain shower which is a rarity in Southern California. Cold drops fall on my flip-flops as I race over the puddles. My toes are cold and my hair has twice the volume due to the frizz factor that is a genetic inevitability in my family when humidity reaches more than 2%.
I press on because on the other side of the glass doors orange and black bounty waits for me on the shelves. I wave at the greeter, decline the flyer and look around at this store that has been my go-to for inexpensive Halloween decorations for as long as I can remember. In shock, I stare at the aisles stuffed with reindeer, candy canes, children’s toys and busy elves. Where are the pumpkins, the goblins and ghosts, the orange lights, the witches, the black cats, candy corn and, my favorite, the crystal balls which never disappoint? October, only 5 days old, has been swallowed up by Christmas. I was too late. It came and went. But, where did it go? I know that Christmas is king in November and December, but do we really need to exorcise Halloween for an extra month of Christmas?
I'm really not a grinch for any of the holidays. I love them all, the family conversations, the catching up, the excited children and the memories we take with us. If I had to choose a favorite it would definitely be Christmas with Halloween being number four on my preferred list. Halloween, has always been the most stressful holiday for me because it usually falls on a weeknight. Parents, in their rush to get home, serve dinner, eat quickly (leaving a pile of dishes in the sink) help their children don costumes for their neighborhood walk in a quest for free candy, all of which isn't what I would normally choose to do after a long work day. Still, it's Halloween and my children loved it. I remember loving it, too.
Last year we were deep into the Covid pandemic with no vaccine in sight, a reasonable excuse to limit trick-or-treating and Halloween in general. But this year, we have a bit more freedom. Do we really need to narrow the timeline on what has become a revered holiday for children, one night of excitement tucked in between homework and soccer practice?
I love the traditions of Christmas, church bells and spiced cider, cookie baking and Christmas trees, twinkling lights, Christmas morning and the gathering of my family. Christmas will always be given its due. Halloween, the harbinger of fall's cool weather, of decorated porches, haunted houses and trick-or-treating is unique as well.
Times have changed, children have matured and costumes are more elaborate. Ninjas and zombies have replaced unicorns, princesses and pirates. Not everyone participates in Halloween festivities for various and legitimate reasons and I respect that. Still, my memory of those nights at the end of October when my parents walked us around the block, not a mobile phone in sight, when we shouted trick-or-treat and neighbors dropped candy into our bags is strong. I would rather not give that up just yet, not when I have four grandchildren who are just beginning to count down the days until October 31st.