Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oh Joy, Halloween's Around the Corner


I hate Halloween.

I know, I know. I’m a suspense novelist who kills people and writes about things that go bump in the night. You’d think Halloween would be my favorite day. Nuh-uh.

Can’t say when I grew to hate it so. I certainly did my share of trick-or-treating as a kid, collecting my sackful of candy and hogging it down for weeks afterward. And when my kids were little, I did the dutiful mom thing and took them around. Never liked doing it, though. I was already slipping into my hate mode.

Our kids are spread seven years apart, so when our son was twelve, I allowed him to start taking his little sister door to door. I wiped my hands of that task forever—and quite happily. Only thing was, I found myself stuck at home answering the door for all the other trick-or-treaters. Didn’t like that either.

I guess you could call me the Grinch of Halloween. (I suppose that would be the Grinchoween.)

I just can’t find anything particularly good about the day. I know some people really abhor the idea and will have nothing to do with it. I don’t go that far, although much of the reason I don’t like the day has to do with its less-than-desirable origins. On the practical side, kids simply don’t need all that candy. I have a theory that dentists (and we all know how evil they are) invented trick-or-treating.

So years ago when our kids were still both trick-or-treating, I came up with an idea. It was brilliant on numerous fronts. First, it infused some positive spin on Halloween—for me, of course. Second, it immediately diminished some of my kids’ candy stashes, which was more than needed.

My idea? Parent tax.

I called it tax, when in reality it was more like a tithe. Following that wonderful biblical principle of first fruits belonging to God—ten percent off the top. Although in this case the ten percent didn’t go to God; it went to Mom.

I’d wait by the door for the return of my hapless children. (My excuse was, I was stuck there anyway, having to answer the bell so often.)

They’d sidle in, holding their bulging bags behind them. My arms would reach out, my voice clipped and authoritative. “Parent tax.”

Their shoulders would droop. Exchanging sighs, they’d hand over their loot.

I always took the chocolate. Mini Baby Ruths, M&Ms—plain and peanut—Twix bars, Snickers. This wasn’t as hard on the kids as you might think. If they complained too loudly, we compromised. But most of the time, they were into all the sugary stuff that’s not worth eating anyway. Gummi bears, licorice (what insanity led to the invention of that horrible stuff!), sour tarts. Blah. They could have that rot.

Now the kids are grown and gone. On Halloween night hubby and I turn off the porch lights and pull down the shades. “We’re not home!” our house screams. “Stay away!” Such total party-poopers. But tell you the truth—most of our street’s the same way. It works. We don’t have to buy candy any more. Not one visitor on Halloween night. I cackle about that all evening.

But, man, I seriously miss that parent tax.

20 comments:

Richard Mabry said...

Brandilyn,
Who would have thought you'd be guilty of such a cruel (and innovative) bit of parenting? We have no children at home, so we take a different tack. For Halloween, we watch the sales and buy a couple of bags of bite-sized Snickers (our favorite). Then we pray for not too many trick-or-treaters, looking forward to rewarding ourselves over the next few weeks with what's left over. (And, if the supply gets too low, we're not above doing the turn-out-the-lights trick ourselves).

Pam Halter said...

HA! I've been doing parent tax for years and didn't even know it!

Vonnie said...

I just wrote a post on my blog about Halloween. (the history and how I feel about it) I never liked it as a child, and now I know why.

BTW - I like that "Parent Tax" , might be used in other ways - Starbucks coffee for driving them to the mall, etc.

Joyce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joyce said...

Yep, I hate halloween also. My kids have never participated and they've never missed it. If they want some candy, I'll buy them some--very little. I guess my hate has more to do with Halloween's emphasis on death. All year long our kids are exposed to the most horrendous crimes and murders on the daily news and we gasp at how terrible it is and then one day out of the year we change our tune and say, "sure, pretend to be an ax murderer and oh, isn't that sweet our neighbor has bloody body parts spewed all over her yard, dummies hung from nooses on trees, tombstones in your front yard are fun." No, not me. I'd rather my children celebrate life.

Nicole said...

Hate it, too. Really do. But that came after Jesus. Unfortunately not before.

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Hehe, parent tax. I like that. We recently attended a "Boo at the Zoo" event here in the Springs which was full of people dressed in some amazing costumes, local vendors advertising their businesses, coupons, giveaways and of course, candy! :) Since our daughter is only 6 months old, our parent tax was 100%. LOL!

But I don't celebrate Halloween either. Haven't since I was 5 years old. Our church always had a harvest festival with pies, apples, corn, etc. And we all dressed as Bible characters.

Like Vonnie, I once researched the history behind the day and that turned me away from it forever. I have nothing against the costumes, or celebrating the harvest, or even the candy, but the rest of evil origins, I can do without.

For 25 years, Brandilyn, my family did the same as you and hubby. Close the doors, turn off the lights, and be "not home." Only, we would always watch movies together and cook some popcorn. Our candy came the day after when everything was 50-75% off. :)

This year, it's a harvest festival at church with Trunk or Treat where families decorate their trunks and the costumed kids come to the cars in the parking lot to get their candy. I'm looking forward to it.

Barbara said...

I'm not a big fan of having to waste an evening handing out candy ... especially since the area's teenagers are now the biggest group to visit. And oh my, the parents of the girls let them out dressed in slutty looking outfits. Last year I attended a church festival that opened to the public and had so many wonderful games and free popcorn and slushies and so on. We're going again this year and with a donation to a church that promotes being good to the community it's in.

Jenn M said...

It's so nice to know I'm not alone in my extreme distaste for this "holiday". We spend all year telling our kids not to take candy from strangers then we send them off on Halloween to do just that. I'm not real big on the "fall festival" idea either. Really, who are they fooling? I tell my kids, we either do Halloween or we don't. End of discussion. They have all kinds of dress-up clothes so they can wear costumes whenever they want, plus my mom always arrives with armloads of candy when she visits, so they aren't missing anything. The funny thing is, their friends feel sorry for them, so the day after Halloween all the neighbor kids come over to share their loot. I guess I can live with that.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Ugh! I hate Halloween also! Lights out...no one's home.

I can't for the life of me understand why anyone would celebrate a day with such evil connotations...for any reason :-(

Lisa-Anne said...

We've had a "french fry tax" for years, because I won't buy any for me... but I can't resist a couple. :)

D. Gudger said...

My husband and I are of the darkened house lot. However, we now have a three and a half year old who is enamoured with costumes, pumpkins and the idea of dressing up.
I hate the origins too, but have such fun memories of trick or treating in my rural neighborhood w/ my pop-pop. My church has great activities (too crowded for my taste last year so we left to do the t or t thing).
I explain to my little Booger that this Halloween thing is something silly we do, but we focus on the silly, not the scary. As he gets older, I hope to phase him out (as my parents did) and create a fun family night in a dark house - Star Wars marathon perhaps?

Linda B said...

My kids would never forgive me if I took away their big chance to get away with "dressing up" in public. But we celebrate Reformation Day instead of Halloween. We just happen to celebrate Reformation Day by dressing up (primarily as Bible characters or elves and hobbits)! If they attend a church event at which candy is handed out, all candy is pooled and shared by the whole family. Now that we only have two kids young enough to make a candy haul, and five older siblings, it doesn't last very long at all, even if they only get one or two pieces a day.

Hannah said...

Ditto, Brandilyn. I don't like Halloween, either. Maybe because when I was four or five we'd hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters, yet somehow I was never able to snag any.

I don't have kids, but I'm saving parent tax for my arsenal when I get married.

For now, I'll steal the candy from my brother.

Ane Mulligan said...

Like you, I began to dislike Halloween a long time ago. Fortunately, in our neighborhood, they tell you to turn your porch light off if you don't want Trick-or-treaters.

In a way, it's too bad. LOL I have a house that is nearly completely hidden by the trees, which makes it spooky without any decoration. I could make it look quite haunted very easily. ;)

Gina C said...

We usually abandon the neighborhood for the church functions, but even last year I ditched that and stayed home with my teen. I'm just not into Halloween either and don't like answering the door, but we're in a new neighborhood this year and it might be a good way to meet some neighbors this year! My kids still like carving pumpkins, so we do the pumpkin gospel. A great way to bring the light into a dark day!

David A. Todd said...

I hate Halloween too, and don't celebrate it. I close all the blinds and have no lights showing facing the street.

DAT

HollyMag said...

HA! I love the parent tax! Not a big fan of Halloween either. This year we're going to Legoland California for their "Brick or Treat" event. Of course, my 10 year old is asking if I'll buy him candy since he can't go trick or treating!

Sara - artst4christ said...

I don't celebrate Halloween either my family has always kept our doors locked and lights off. I'm 22 and never went Trick or Treating and didn't care. This year though I'll probably have the most fun and hopefully profit from this so called holiday. I started face painting this spring and I signed at a "Autumn" hah festival on Halloween day sooo there's the profit and then the college and career group I attend decided do a hayride/cookout at a church family's home. Should be fun !!!

Domino said...

Halloween is my time to stand at my door and give away candy that I glued to small papers with a Bible Verse on them.

I tell each visitor "Jesus loves you" and "God Bless You!" I often hear the parents and grandparents at the sidewalk thanking me and saying "God bless you, too!"

If someone comes to my door (and often they are a little old for trick or treating) with the expectation that I will give them something, I give them something living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword. I don't let them take what they want as if I was being bullied. I give willingly.

My brother makes kids answer age-appropriate math questions before he gives them candy.