Let me start by saying I don’t enjoy Halloween. I have always been afraid of the dark, and as a kid, going door-to-door in the pitch-black made me nervous. After a run-in with a live person posing as a dead one, then springing to life in front of me while I reached out to ring a doorbell, THEN having my dad yell at me because I was too terrified to leave the safety of his side, I am officially a Halloween scrooge. (You’d think after 25 years those scars would fade a little bit, but YOU’D BE WRONG.) It wasn’t long after that experience that I opted to stay home with my mom and hand out the candy. Besides, ten years old is waaaaay too old to be dressing up and going out, right?
I’ve decided that Halloween is like Christmas, with all the preparation, anticipation and stress, but it’s over in one night. One very long, stressful night. You can drag Christmas out until New Year’s, but come November 1, all the Halloween hoo-hah has to be packed up and put away. This year I didn’t even break open my crates of Halloween stuff. I put my wooden witch on the front door and swapped a candy-corn tablecloth for the regular blue one, and called it good. Oh, and last week when I was cleaning out the garage, I put out my trio of ghost ground-stakes. I felt totally “decorated”. (My poor kids. They deserve so much more.)
I think a lot of my dislike for the holiday stems from the stress (did I mention that already?) it causes a parent. Since having school-age children, I feel like I “do” Halloween all day. There’s the rush to get them fed, costumed and off to school, the school parade, the class parties, a short nap for the younger siblings, the after-school pickup, changing out of costumes, carving pumpkins (I always have to clean them while Kenny carves them), feeding kids dinner (who are so excited to go trick-or-treating they are actually levitating two feet above the chairs they should be sitting on!), getting them back in costumes, taking pictures, handing out candy to the kids whose parents started early, FINALLY getting my adorable (albeit grumpy) offspring on their way to candy heaven, getting them home, showered, and ready for bed, sorting through four bags of candy, hearing cries of, “Just one piece tonight? PLEASE?” (which turn into two, three, four… or TEN), and the ultimate bedtime struggle between an exhausted parent and her sugar-overdosed little monsters.
I am already exhausted.
This year worked out a little differently, though. Today the teachers got a prep day to get ready for next week’s parent/teacher conferences, so we celebrated Halloween at school yesterday, and the kids enjoyed a school vacation on Halloween day. (I’ve lived in Utah for 32 years, and this is the first year that’s EVER happened. I sure hope it’s not the last! It was a win-win for everyone.)
The only downfall to dressing up two days is… well… dressing up for two days. Poor Alex had neon-green hair, and if it hadn’t flaked off so much on the upholstery, I’d have let him keep it for today. As it turned out, the hair spray didn’t stick to the hair very well until it was wet and soapy, and then it became glue. It took four shampoos to get the majority of it out, and poor Alex still had patches of green scalp. Did that prevent him from wanting green hair again tonight? You’d better believe it DIDN’T. Because, when you’re nine, brightly-colored hair is AWESOME.
(Ferb, holding Perry the Platypus) (Hermione)
We painted pumpkins last night (something we learned from sheer desperation last year, when time to carve was severely limited), and wouldn’t you know? The kids actually seem to prefer it over carving, because they get to do something more than say, “This kind of eyes, that kind of mouth”. The results aren’t quite the same, but they’re still proud of their pumpkins. We also had our traditional “Mummy Dog Dinner”, which is nothing more than hot dogs wrapped in refrigerated breadstick dough and french fries, but the way the kids carried on, you’d have thought I served them Beef Wellington or something equally fancy. To wrap things up, we ate ghost brownies and watched a Food Network Challenge about pumpkin carving.
In keeping with the coolest parent in the world thing (except for Halloween spirit and decorating for the holiday), we went to the zoo today with my sister, my niece and my parents. I was really hesitant because I was sure it would be swamped on Halloween, especially with most of the school district out for the prep day, but as it turns out, PEOPLE DON’T GO TO THE ZOO ON HALLOWEEN. It was beautiful weather: 70 degrees and cloudy, with a very slight breeze. The animals were lively, the zoo was empty, and the kids got to see a lot of animal feedings. I think they enjoyed the penguins best. Those little birds can swallow fish whole, and seeing them dive into the pool after a handful of freshly-flung fish was enough to make all of us giggle. (Not unlike mummy-dog night at our house…)
After the zoo, we came home for a quick nap before donning costumes and heading out for some trick-or-treating.
Sleeping in, no school, quiet zoo, naps… now THAT’S a Halloween day I can get behind.