Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Yodog, originally uploaded by myhappylittleplace.

It has chocolate! It has make-believe! It has skeletons rising from the grave to walk through the streets one more time. You'd think I love it.

But I don't.

I know it's curmudgeonly; it's practically unpatriotic; and what's worse, it's probably a sign of being too old and jaded to remember the joy of traipsing through the streets in the cold, nose dripping behind your plastic mask, with an increasingly heavy bag--or even a pillowcase, for the truly enterprising--laden down with an assortment of tantalizing, teeth rotting, commercially made junk food--but I hate Halloween. There I've said it!

And what's more I've got good reasons for it. Ten of them, in fact.

1. Animals in costumes. Seriously, have you ever met a cat who would enjoy getting dressed up as Batman or Bridezilla?

2. It exposes my inadequacies as a mother. I can't sew, and even if I could, I could never come up with the creative costume ideas that the "mother who does everything better than you do" has. As a result, my kids were always dressed up in last minute, hodge-podge costumes made from stuff found around the house. Sheet ghosts and funky princesses were my specialty.

3. People who don't even wave to you on the street bring their children to your door demanding candy.

4. The candy's not even good.

5. I eat it anyway.

6. The prime trick or treating hour is just when you're having dinner.

7. Bad people put razor blades in the candy. Or at least, some sick Halloween Grinch (not me, I swear) did once ten years ago, and the Organization of Paranoid Parents, of which I'm a charter member, has been worrying about it ever since.

8. The dogs don't get it. The doorbell ringing every five minutes? Little people dressed up in furry costumes who haven't even done a trick get treats from their master? What the hell?

9. Fifty dollar costumes! How silly are we?

10. Someone always steals my pumpkin. This year the bold band of thieves came right to the doorstep while we sat reading in our armchairs only feet away, and while the dogs barked madly in the background. Fortunately for them, we were too lazy and curmudgeonly to get up and see what was going on. (Besides, I was reading a really good book.)


The good news? This year, the thieves left something in return. And though I don't think it would make a very good soup, it's almost pumpkin colored.


The bad news? Now I've got to get up out of my armchair and get rid of that cone. Can you make it eleven reasons?


NoVA Dad said...

I absolutely love this list. This is the first year our little will be old enough to trick-or-treat (her grandparents picked up a wonderful princess outfit for her, so she feel she's ready). We've got a pumpkin on our stoop that hasn't been carved, and we bought three bags of candy -- and then my wife and I proceeded to eat one of them ourselves over the course of 10 days. I guess for me, the fun will be trying to watch my daughter figure out why she has to say "Trick or Treat!" every fifty feet -- thank goodness we're only hitting five or six of our neighbors.

Believe me, if I could figure out a way to do it without leaving my chair, I would!!

Happy All Hallow's Eve!

- Matt

Fred Garber said...

Patry...Great post.I read this article this morning....

Neil Gaiman on Halloween...somewhat different take....Now tomorrow is a day of obligation....Gotta go to mass for All Souls Day...and then comes Dia de los Muertos...I have ordered some pan de los muertos from a local Mexican bakery... I also suggest going to labloga.blogspot.com They had a contest for the Day of the Dead. Some neat stuff.

Stephanie said...

I really like Halloween, but I agree with everything on your list!

Left-handed Trees... said...

This was hysterical...though around here we celebrate Halloween ALL OUT, I could relate to the non-sewing and the $50.00 rip off costumes. Ugh...

Robin said...

Well said, Patry! I'm usually right there with you, but it's gorgeous out today and the kids are soooo excited.

And I may or may not be a bit sugared up on Gummi Lifesavers and Miniature Reese's Cups.

Just one of each -- probably nothing compared to what my daughters are eating at school right now. Not that they'll admit it when they get home. ;)

On the plus side, I read your post before you added the pictures and I thought they'd left something a lot more sinister on your porch. This assumption was probably due to my recent exposure to baby poop (almost as orange...). Maybe the cone isn't so bad.

Laini Taylor said...

ha ha ha! I have gotten a little lazy about Halloween in recent years, but I honestly look forward to having kids some day and going through the whole rigamarole again. I loved it as a kid! Though in Oregon it's probably hard to do cute weatherproof costumes! Love the traffic cone, don't know why, I just do. ha ha! Also LOVE the cover of your book all gorgeous and big on the side of your blog! Can't WAIT to read it!!! I'm going to preorder it. And, since I haven't been very bloggy the past weeks, I just caught up and saw that you didn't previously know that Kafka quote and I'm so glad I could introduce it to you!

Sustenance Scout said...

Oh my gosh, Patry, I'm still laughing!

Sky said...

fun post, patry. i have a love/hate relationship with halloween. i love its fun and masquerade - but hate getting up and down each time the doorbell chimes. when we had pups, the barking drove me mad.

we love to see the little ones all dressed up, enjoy surprising them by dressing up to answer the door and then spooking them with loud wails as the door begins to crach open. we love decorating the courtyard and patio in front with a small hay-stacked wagon loaded with pumpkins and gourds, a scarecrow sitting on the edge and a jack-o-lantern in front lit with a bright orange light, a skeleton holding a pumpkin light, ghosts and witchy things in the night. and we loveeeeeeeeee chocolate!

paris parfait said...

Terrific list! Brings back a lot of memories. And that is so true about people who normally ignore you bringing their kids over demanding candy.

gerry rosser said...

What I don't like about Halloween is every damn demon, banshee, ghoul, witch, warlock, golem, spook, vampire, werewolf, kobold, zombie, and other wicked, evil creature thinks it is okay to do terrible things on this day. I ain't talking about urchins in costume, I'm talking about the real thing. Every November 1 I consider myself lucky to be alive, and not to have been eaten, exsanguinated, or turned into a toad.
On the other hand, there is chocolate . . .

rdl said...

mmmm candy!! how can you hate a holiday with chocolate. I just remembered when Luke found that stash hidden under the chair over at yr. house when he was little and we proceeded to have some before you placed it back where he found it.

celestialmtn said...

It's like you read my mind when you wrote this list. I am so tired of Halloween, and that's strange even for me to say because I was once, long ago, a true lover of Halloween and of getting all decked out to go trick-or-treating. Those days of course are long gone, along with my high school days... sigh...

11. It's just another way for big candy corporations to make money at your inconvenience.

Kerstin said...

Oh wow, you really are serious about your weekly schedule, aren't you!

I did not grow up with Halloween but when I lived in Canada aged 22 I remember going to a Halloween party and enjoying it because the dressing up part reminded me of Carnival back home in Germany. Which goes on for a whole week! And which I used to love because of the dressing up, I often had two or three costumes.

The closest custom to Halloween in Germany is St. Martin's day on November 11th where kids make lanterns with candles or buy ready made ones with battery operated light bulbs. They then join together in a parade around town with the lanterns lit up (very pretty), usually led by someone on a horse and everyone singing St. Martin songs. After the parade the kids take their lanterns around the local neighbourhood where they sing nice songs and get candies in return. And yes, these candies are usually not that good, either.

Anonymous said...

I don't like Halloween because adults seem to have taken it over from kids.

herhimnbryn said...

I don't get it and never have. Children have just started to trick or treat in Oz. ( what happens if you ask for a trick?).

So, here we are living in a forest in Western Australia. We are sitting outside enjoying the gentle evening air, when the dog goes berserk. He races indoors, through the house and hurls himself at the flyscreen door ( fortunately it was locked).
I go indoors to see what the fuss is all about and there, running up the road are three little people in Halloween costumes. They could not run fast enough, if they could have flown they would have done so!
I think we will now have a reputation as the house with the rabid dog.
ps I wouldn't have had any lollies ( Oz speak for candy) in the house anyway. I suppose I could have given them dog biscuit;)

gerry rosser said...

Anyone who thinks Halloween ain't scary, take a look at my blog.

Dave said...

You forgot giant, inflatable lawn pumpkins.

The Curmudgeon said...

11. Eggs. We've been egged two years in a row (my wife's a teacher and some of her students and ex-students decided to start a very unpleasant holiday tradition) and I'm sitting here in the office waiting for a phone call that I'm beginning to realize isn't coming tonight... when I should be home defending the homestead.

Last year I was freezing across the street from the house, sitting in the van, waiting for the kids to come out of the alley... which they did... and I did my best beserker imitation... but I'm old and slow and didn't catch any of them.

Halloween pranks can be funny. I like the substitution of the traffic cone a lot.

Anonymous said...

Oh, how sad!

Hallowe'en isn't about costumes and candy, Charlie Brown. It's about what's primal and scary, about finding our deepest fears, including maybe our own mortality, or the idea that some people might never really go away, and making fun of them. It's about fantasy and mischief, which are not necessarily cheery, sweet things.

One of the best Hallowe'en observances I ever attended was in Santa Cruz, CA, where the owner of a pub held a candlelit reading in a back room of stories by Edgar Allen Poe. That was outstanding.

That's something you could do, noncompetitively and inexpensively, and by invitation only. I'll bet a circle of your friends telling each other scary stories while drinking and eating in the semi-dark would be a very good time indeed. You could even leave the light off out front and not hand out candy or carve and light pumpkins at all, though I think you should paint a face on the cone. Maybe someone will take it.

If it makes you feel better, I have grown -- shrunk? -- to really, really hate Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...I just realized that this is the party I myself need to throw next year. I think there will be a quantity of hot, spiced, maybe even spiked cider and other delicious things.

Look what you and your curmudgeonly ways have done! (And you're definitely invited.)

rdl said...

I like Sara's idea. I want to come too. definitely paint a face on the cone.

Dale said...

Halloween always strikes me (as New Year's does) as a time when people drink too much and try desperately to convince themselves they're having a good time. When it gets toward the end of the evening and they still haven't really had any fun, they smash pumpkins and egg houses and throw up on people's porches. That's not fun either, but at least they've made other people feel bad too.

Anonymous said...

I'd think a party along the lines described is just what's needed! Turn off the lights, and drink hot spiced alcoholic things and eat delicious pumpkin-y foods, and salty, spicy cruncy things. No candy. (May I come?)

Zhoen said...

I still like my own Halloweens, thrown together costumes, my own ideas, my own creations. Being out after dark, especially after my brother was old enough to take me out trick-or-treating.

The razor blade/needle in the candy/apple seems to be an urban legend. See Snopes.

All the rest is why I don't even bother about a costume, never give out candy, generally ignore the whole thing. And I mind, because it could be a lot of fun, even now. But it's not.

Patry Francis said...

matt: Little ones like yours are the only thing I'm not curmudgeonly about.

k: It was a good stunt actually.

fred: I checked out the Gaiman article. Very interesting. Next stop: labloga.

stephanie: I'm glad you can still enjoy it.

robin: I'm actually becoming rather attached to the cone--and you're so right. It could have been much worse.

left handed: Hope your kids enjoyed it to the max--and without any $50 costumery!

laini: When you have kids, they will surely have the coolest costumes and the best halloween parties. (And thanks for noticing the book--though I made it so large, I guess it's hard not to.)

sky: I'm coming to your house next year.

paris: It's a sad part of neighborhood life--at least where I live.

gerry: No doubt some scarey stuff does happen.

r: I think I'm becoming a chocolate snob. I don't even really like this stuff anymore--though as I say, that doesn't stop me from eating it.

curmudgeon: Ah, eggs! The one year we weren't home for halloween our house was egged profusely. It was hell getting it off (as I'm sure you and the eggers well know.)

nova: Love your number 11. And this year it seemed as if they're charging more for less pieces per bag.

todd: Yes! And teenagers, too. Most of our tricker treaters this year were 14 plus.

herhimnbryn: What a great story! My dogs react similarly, but thus far haven't managed to scare anyone away.

dave: I thought of you tonight when I saw one of those giants proudly squatting on a neighbor's lawn.

sara: Looks like you may end up with a very large party of like-minded souls next year.

And I LOVE the idea of painting the cone. This afternoon
when I was admiring a particularly fine pumpkin on a neighbor's stoop, my daughter suggested I swap the cone for it. Now THAT might be fun. Kind of like the card game, Old Maid: who gets stuck with the road cone?

dale: I don't like New Year's Eve either--and for the same reasons. What was it you were recently saying about people having tribes?

kerstin: YOur German traditions sound very appealing--especially the lights and the singing.

bloglily: We definitely won't start the party until you arrive.

zhoen: That's what bothers me, too. It should be magical. It should be about community. But mostly, it's not.

Anonymous said...

I love the make-believe, dressing up part of Halloween (especially for the little guys), but you do make some good curmudgeonly points (most of which my husband has pointed out to me through the years, in his own curmudgeonly way :)

I don't mind if they steal the pumpkin as much as if they SMASH the darned thing on the lawn. At least your pumpkin thieves did make a trade of sorts!

That said, I wish you a belated Happy Halloween! Now you can breathe easy - the horror has ended for another year.

Oh - and happy NaNoWriMo/AEM!

Bernita said...

Make that two curmudgeons.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious, Patry!

Can we add in that doorbell ringing everytime I sat down to work on my myspace page, or switch the laundry, or eat chocolate chips?

What I want to know is, what was the great book you were reading?


Patry Francis said...

tinker: Actually, I'm getting rather fond of the cone. And sitting on top of my black milk can, it looks rather like a benign witch hat. And I AM going to paint it--maybe even for MAED.

bernita: I so love to be in good company.

tish: Working on Myspace? Now I'm feeling really guilty.

Anyway, the book was The NIght Gardener by George Pelacanos. I've been looking for a good read for December's book club selection. Though I'm enjoying the book a lot, I have another one in mind for Third Day.

robin andrea said...

When I was young there was always one or two neighbors who left their house dark, making it very clear that they were not giving out candy to trick or treaters. I always wondered about them, then I became them. When we lived in Santa Cruz in a regular neighborhood with houses and kids, we would hide in our back bedroom with all the lights turned off, and watch a video. Now I live out in the country and the only creatures that come by are the raccoons for a stroll through the yard. They never knock on the door looking for candy.

Distant Timbers Echo said...

The candy's not even good. I eat it anyway.


Well done post!

Sarah Salway said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sarah Salway said...

Oops, left a post here by mistake - but just wanted to come back and say I loved number 3 in particular (and I want to come to Sara's party too please).

Darlene said...

So so incredibly funny! I laughed and laughed...

No need for a costume..go as a stand up comedian :D

xxx darlene

Patry Francis said...

r.a.: A Halloween with the squirrels and raccoons sound like heaven. I would even serve acorns.

redneck: First of all, welcome to my blog! Fortunately, we had a record turn out of trick or treaters so there was very little (crappy) candy left for me to eat.

sara: This is shaping up to be one great party! I think Sara could end up changing my mind about Halloween altogether.

darlene: You are so sweet, but if I'm ever invited to another Halloween party (besides Sara's marvelous bash, of course) I think I"m going to put the cone on my head and go as the Halloween grinch.

Anonymous said...

You may wear the cone to my party, if you still have it -- or not, as you choose. Costumes (but not clothing) will be optional.

We may have to throw a separate party online. There are only so many hours in the evening, and I am envisioning everyone who comes bringing a piece to read or perform and/or something to eat.

Plus, the house of the one-legged woman, though not a hovel, is a small abode, able to accommodate only a few souls who might scratch at the darkened door at dusk, each bearing his own tortured tale and devouring hunger.

Online just isn't spooky, though.

Anonymous said...

I agree with number 2, but I do like to be behind a mask. People approach me more boldly when they don't know who I am.

The cone is a riot! Your trickster has a sense of humor. If I was still young and impressionable I might like to try doing that!

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