I struggle with Halloween. I didn’t realise quite how much until I had a chance conversation with a friend at a kids’ party today. She asked me if I was planning to take my boys trick or treating. No, I said, I was not. And then proceeded to outline, in detail, for five minutes, exactly why not.
Everyone has their ‘event’ gripe. For some it’s the commercialism of Christmas and how the true meaning is lost. For others, it’s Valentine’s Day and overpriced red roses. My ‘event’ gripe is Halloween. Specifically, Halloween in Australia. In the US, Halloween makes perfect sense. There’s tradition involved. It has a place.
In Australia, Halloween didn’t really exist until, as best I can figure, about 2005, when retailers decided it was the perfect occasion to boost sales in the lead up to boosting sales over Christmas. When I was a kid, Halloween was something I read about in books. I wish in my heart of hearts that it had stayed there.
I’ve watched Halloween creep, pumpkin by pumpkin, ghost by ghost, into the Australian child’s consciousness over the past few years. This year, however, it has really reached a tipping point. Hence the reason for my conversation this morning. My friend was struggling against her seven-year-old daughter’s begging and pleading to go trick or treating. Part of my friend’s struggle was internal. She likes the idea of taking her children out into the neighbourhood at night. To walk under the dark sky and see their world in a different way.
“Fine,” I said. “Dress them up and take them for a walk. But don’t go knocking on doors.”
My boys know that we don’t do Halloween in the Fibro. When they asked me why, I simply explained that it was another country’s tradition, not ours, and we wouldn’t be taking it up. So last year when a young family knocked on our door – at 8pm – I had no qualms about telling them sorry, we don’t do Halloween. I was polite, I was cheerful, I was firm. The mother was not happy with me. But I am not about to start handing out lollies to other kids who knock on our door, when I’ve told my children that it’s not something we do. What kind of hypocrite would that make me?
My elderly neighbours (and the Fibro has many) hate Halloween. It’s not part of their world at all. They hate anyone knocking on their door at any time, let alone after dark. It may be anti-social, but it’s also about security. Not all trick or treaters are friendly six year olds, out with their Mums.
I know this makes me very Bah Humbug (or Boo Humbug, the Halloween equivalent), but I don’t think I care. Halloween is not my party.