Feeding the Squirrels? Priceless.
I detest Halloween. I wasn’t always a Scrooge about this “holiday”, but even when Halloween was fun, it was only so for one reason: the candy.
As the first-born in the family, I was a sugar-deprived kid. Gradually the rules relaxed in our house, but not before candy became one of the chief pursuits in my young life:
I resented when my sisters started to potty-train, because they received M&Ms instead of icky banana chips like I did. They got fruit snacks and other good things in their bag lunches while I had hard-boiled eggs and disgusting, vile, exquisitely untradeable carob-chip cookies during my elementary school years.
I had a reputation at school: when it came to trading at lunchtime, I was an untouchable. I had nothing good to trade. There was one freaky kid who would trade my hard-boiled egg for a yogurt cup, but one day the “hard-boiled egg” my mom put in my lunch was actually soft-boiled. I heard from the kid’s friend at lunchtime that he had puked in the cafeteria and wouldn’t be trading with me any more. No more yogurt.
I visited our geriatric next-door neighbors who had a bowl of Hershey kisses on their living room table. They’d let me help myself as long as I fed a few to their two toy poodles and sat quietly in their darkened living room, watching interminable daytime television.
My grandmother was a diabetic, and so the “candy” around her house wasn’t candy so much as sugar-free candy flavored laxatives, and it took a few, uh, incidents before I revised my cost-benefit analysis and abandoned the reckless overconsumption of them.
Because there was almost nothing resembling candy in our house, I experimented: I frequently took toothpaste to bed at naptime (AquaFresh, blech!) to snack on. Tums, chewable multivitamins and Vitamin C were within one degree of being as good as real candy, despite the chalky texture. One time I drank an entire bottle of baby vitamins, and then was treated to a delicious course of Syrup of Ipecac.
So when Halloween came, it wasn’t the costumes, the parties, or the endless public school celebrations that excited me: the one and only thing that made Halloween worthwhile was the candy. In fact, even “trick-or-treating” was a pretty tiresome way to spend an evening. Only the payoff made the whole enterprise worthwhile.
Mercifully, my parents permitted an unrestrained free-for-all of candy bacchanalia on Halloween, which represented at least 80% of my annual candy consumption. At the end of an evening of trick-or-treating – which never lasted quite as long as I wished it would – I emptied my bag of candy and spread the haul out onto my bedroom floor so I could survey the year’s take.
I admit that in that moment, I took some joy in Halloween. But joy was eclipsed by an equal measure of despair: however much candy I received, I despaired that it would not be enough. I needed more. Because of my libidinous inclinations toward candy, the mania of it all lasted for such a short time. It was a fleeting, temporary and illusory joy, underscored by my depravity at seeking after more and more candy!
Efforts to assuage my sugar deprivation resulted in the rapid decline of Halloween candy supplies. Within 48 hours, there would be absolutely no chocolate left in my stash, but for the Mounds and Almond Joys which were not edible.
Within 72 hours, only the lowest-tier penny candy would remain: stale gum wrapped in wax paper, sweethearts, pixie sticks. All that was left was flavored sugar – certainly better than saccharine tablets or toothpaste, but far from the nirvana of an entire Snickers bar.
By the following week, nothing was left except regret and carious dentition. After all, I was taking a break from snacking on toothpaste.
Now that I can buy my own candy and don’t need to beg at strangers’ doors, I can freely proclaim that Halloween is nothing more than a tired, stale, ridiculous farce that should have a strict “under-10” age limit.
Halloween is disturbing because of the way that grownups have become so engrossed in “celebrating” this made up holiday. Halloween is a multibillion-dollar commercial enterprise, for which refined sugars are offered as “food” and vacant shopping mall spaces are briefly occupied with “Spirit” stores purveying immodest slut outfits for overweight middle-aged women.
It’s seen as “normal” to pay up to $10 for a single pumpkin, which isn’t just normal but necessary (unless you really do want to hasten the end of the world). Does anyone care that pumpkins cost so much, despite the fact that children everywhere do not receive adequate diets of fresh fruits and vegetables?
No one actually eats the pumpkins, except the squirrels! If we simply bought Halloween sweet potatoes we could at least feed some people! Isn’t there a bit of avarice in such a display? Squirrels or not, Halloween pumpkins end up a disgusting mess on the front porch for someone to clean up, and disgusting messes are always my favorite ways to spend $50.
Bars and dance clubs – ever adept at removing inhibitions through “theming” and “branding” – devise “spooky” drinking games and concoct libations served in plastic cauldrons and sputtering dry ice fog. Pop songs are remixed with spooky sound effects. People too old for Halloween find another excuse to overindulge and behave like horny zombies, “twerking” and “grinding” all over the place.
Halloween is the celebration of excess. It wouldn’t exist but for a culture and economy that is so self-referential that it excuses the admittance of the wholesome and healthy in exchange for the base and sensual. Holidays are supposed to be feasts! At a holiday table, you should find good things that elevate body and mind: rich foods, fine drink, hearty laughs, and warm hearths.
At what other holiday do we skip the “wedding banquet” altogether and proceed directly to the “marital bed”? Perhaps only Christmas, but even then one can choose not to indulge the superficial and commercial and instead celebrate the holy and awesome, which (parenthetically) is always free. If you remove the superficial and commercial from Halloween, there’s literally nothing left to “celebrate”.
And what about all the quasi-criminality brought on by Halloween? Vandalism – hoodlums smashing jack-o-lanterns, taking baseball bats to mailboxes (I’ve lost several), throwing eggs at cars, toilet paper streamers in tall trees? Since when are those things suitable activities for anyone?
I’m not one of those crazies shouting about how Halloween is dangerous to the spiritual life of your children. I’m not telling you that Harry Potter or Voldemort will climb out of their paperback and coerce your kids into indulging in butterbeer and pumpkin juice while donning Hufflepuff robes.
Perhaps there are spiritual pitfalls in celebrating Halloween, but secular culture so heartily rejects the reality of evil that the likelihood of your kids encountering anything other than gross overconsumption is actually very low.
What I’m saying is that the evil to be found in Halloween is the same as sin itself: it is stupid. It is a celebration of the inane and pointless. There is no virtue. There is nothing edifying. There is no great mystery, no reason for hope or joy as with actual holidays. There is no silver lining within dark clouds. There isn’t even dark. There is only dim: dimness in mind, heart, and soul.
While at Halloween even the devil isn’t taken seriously, you can seriously be assured he likes it that way. The devil likes plausible deniability. He is, after all, the Father of Lies. What’s the point of possession if candy, sex, and stupidity does the job far more easily and cheaply?
I say “Bah Humbug!” to the whole thing. I’d gladly take the kids to the candy store on a quarterly basis if it got me out of Halloween. Instead I’ll be present for at least two separate “trick-or-treating” events. My kids are the ones with the homemade costumes. But even though we didn’t spend anything on costumes this year, we still have at least $50 worth of squirrel food.