I’m heaving a sigh of relief that Halloween is behind us for another year. Confession: I hate it with a passion. I like my holidays to have some meaning, and with its focus on candy, door-knocking and ghoulish displays outside many of the homes in my neighbourhood, the meaning of Halloween, if there is any, remains an enigma to me.
My kids have learned to tolerate their mom’s antipathy towards a holiday they adore. They know there will be no fake gravestones on our lawn, no cobwebs strung outside the garage and no mechanical spiders dangling from the roof. Since my husband insists on it, we’re among those three-quarters of Canadians who spend money stocking up on candy, contributing to the mind-boggling $331 million this country spends on sweet junk each year in October. But when they choose to dress up, my kids are on their own to improvise an outfit from their trusty dress-up drawer. Shopping trips are out of the question.
As a Jewish mother, I’m inclined to forbid their participation in Halloween completely. Religiously, it feels like spiritual anathema, a mockery of death and the afterlife. Besides, what can it offer, I wonder, aside from unwanted cavities?
But something has stopped me from cutting Halloween out of their lives. The parent in me is softened by my kids’ ardent desire to join their neighbourhood friends, to feel part of the excitement generated by school Halloween parties, advertisements and in-store marketing collateral. There’s also the small issue of stockpiling candy, a double-edged sword for a mother with a penchant for Kit Kat chocolate bars, of which there’s a verdant supply in those candy bags, year after year.
I don’t keep quiet about my disdain for Halloween, and each year I invite my kids to question exactly why they want to participate and what they plan to do with their loot. We discuss what havoc that candy will unleash on their teeth, how little nourishment it offers their growing bodies and how many homeowners consider the persistent knocks on the door to be an annoyance exceeded only by ungrateful kids who don’t even murmur a thank you after you’ve contributed to their stash.
This year, my cavity preaching must have paid off. My children arrived home, dumped their candy on the floor and immediately started bargaining to exchange it with their father for a few dollars. Sure, I’m still finding wrappers in unsuspecting corners of the house, but the vast majority of our candy stockpile is thankfully gone, until next year at the very least.
I’m off the hook for another 11 months, at which point the meaningless horror of Halloween will confront me, once again. Look for me in the shadows. I’ll be the reluctant parent huddled in a coat a few feet from my kids as they knock on the door clasping bulging bags of candy. I’ll be the one reminding them to say thank you, trying to usher them home and attempting to rid those candy bags of the worst cavity culprits. If there’s a Grinch of Halloween, it’s me. Toss it firmly off the calendar, I say. I wouldn’t miss it for a second.