Friday, October 31, 2008


Halloween greetings, all! Firstborn has just gotten on the schoolbus in his Superman costume and I'm preparing for an early evening of trick-or-treating before handing out a few treats myself. Frankly, I can't wait for November 1st.
As a kid, I didn't really start trick-or treating until I was about 11. Before that, we lived in England, where that sort of thing just isn't done. But it didn't take long to figure out that it was the greatest candy-grab anyone could've ever come up with, and for the couple of years I was still young enough to participate, I looked forward to it, eagerly planning my costume from the first day of school in September. These days, I can't help but see it as one more thing to get through. It's a hassle having to put kids into costumes and strap them into the car (because we can't walk anywhere from here), then walk them all over some little neighbourhood, all the while having to rein-in Rosemary's Baby as he attempts to wander into the street, or dig up the dirt under someone's rose bushes. And after that, it's finding a nice quiet place to toss the dogs so they don't scare someone's kid to death while I hand out candy on the front steps until all hours. Not to sound like a Halloween grinch, but I'd rather make myself a cup of decaf and spend a quiet evening in front of the TV, further acquainting myself with Tony Soprano.
However, making the most of this short period in my life is all about embracing motherhood, and all the little inconveniences that come with it. So instead of focussing on the annoyance that is Halloween, I will choose to rewind a few years and concentrate on the stuff that made me look forward to it way back when I could never have imagined it being anything but plain old good fun. So, without further adieu, I present to you my list of why Halloween rocks.

1. Candy. Well, duh! This is obviously the reason every kid in North America looks forward to All Hallows' Eve. I think it's probably also the reason Weight Watchers continues to be so successful throughout the fall (followed closely, of course, by the ultimate season of overindulgence, Christmas). I, myself, have a box of 75 chocolate bars. Last year, we got 4 trick-or-treaters. You do the math.
2. Costumes. Okay, okay. So, I admit that I hate having to dress my kids up, but how cute are they when they get into their costumes? And, I must confess, seeing a baby dressed up as an animal creates certain gurgling in my reproductive system.
3. Pumpkins. My favourite fruit/vegetable is the gorgeous orange gourd we call the pumpkin. There's just something about it that ushers in fall for me. And once fall is here, there's the neverending possibility of new fashion choices...scarves, jackets, boots (and boots, and more boots!). In conjunction with the gorgeous colours on the trees, the pumpkin screams "AUTUMN" for me. And I haven't even gotten to the cheesecakes, pies, muffins, soups and pastas you can turn the pumpkin into. We grew 4 pumpkins in our garden this year, so I'll be eating lots of it come November. And what could be more comforting when the snow starts falling?
4. TV and the Movies. Okay, I don't go in for any of that blood-and-gore stuff and I think, looking at some of the junk being churned out today, it's safe to say that moviemakers of yesteryear were far more adept at striking terror into our hearts (see Rosemary's Baby, of course, The Exorcist, The Shining and The Omen, just to name a few of the best, and never underestimate the brilliance of the late greats, Vincent Price and Alfred Hitchcock). TV, on the other hand, seems to get better with time. If you have cable (and, sadly, I don't), you can watch all manner of creepy true-to-life stories of ghosts and hauntings. Of course, with the Captain gone, and me living in the middle of nowhere, there's no way I'd actually sit by myself and watch any of this stuff, but I can dream of an autumn in the future when the Captain and I can flop onto the couch with a bowl of popcorn after the kids are asleep and scare ourselves silly.
5. The Halloween Tree. I'm talking about the most excellent novel by Ray Bradbury, not to be confused with the fairly lame cartoon adaptation. The Captain introduced me to this book during my last year of teaching grade 6, when I wanted to find an age-appropriate story that dealt with Halloween but also touched on another area we were studying, Ancient Civilizations. And this book was no disappointment. Through this novel, my students learned that Halloween is so much more than trick-or-treating. There are cultures around the world that honour their dead in the most meaningful and interesting ways. We, as North Americans, have taken these traditions and manipulated them into an opportunity to hit up our neighbours for candy, then toilet paper their trees if they refuse to comply. Meh. It's what we do. But there's no reason we can't educate ourselves, and this book is one entertaining, eye-opening way to do it. I can't recommend it highly enough.

And there you have it. While I do look forward to getting the excitement of the day over and easing into a nice, relaxing weekend at home, I guess Halloween isn't all bad. Maybe I'll even whip us up a spooky dessert tonight and find a big bowl to keep the leftover candy in. And then I guess it'll be time to give Weight Watchers a call.
Happy Halloween!

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