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.