Halloween is cancelled in my house.
I’m not usually the kind of parent who draws the line on things. If my children want to stay up late at the weekend and watch inappropriate films I tend to let them. If they beg me for treats and snacks that I know aren’t all that great health-wise, I often give in. I make empty threats about screen time and move the goalposts about pretty much everything, pretty much every day. I’m genuinely a terrible mother.
But there is one thing that brings out the latent puritan in me, that makes me want to impose strict sanctions, rage about the state of the nation, and stick with total conviction to my word, and that is Halloween. What on earth is going on with Halloween? How have we let this become a thing, people?
Halloween is a terrible cocktail of all the things we know are bad for our children: sugar, mindless consumerism, wanton consumption, entitled behaviour, waste and more sugar. It’s a celebration of literally everything that makes you feel guilty and wrong as a human being. As an illustration, a typical Halloween in our house generally seems to involve the following:
– Spending hard-earned wages on horrible scratchy fancy dress outfits (made in terrible child labour sweatshops) that they never wear again
– And/or making fancy dress outfits they never wear again. As if we don’t have to do enough of that with World Book Day, Harry Potter Day, Egyptian Day etc etc
– Smothering their beautiful, delicate skin in black make-up and fake blood
– Watching powerless as they guzzle thousands of sweets for no particular reason
– Knocking on strangers’ doors and asking them to give your children even more sweets, for no reason
– Fretting about them being out in the dark/being kidnapped by evil childsnatchers
– Giving loads of sweets to kids who come to your door demanding free sweets, for no particular reason
– Mess and black hairspray everywhere
– Secret sweets stashed all over the house until Christmas
– A surplus of pumpkin – least exciting gourd
My fury at Halloween (the true purpose of which remains a total mystery to me, age 42) has intensified so much that this year I’ve told my poor, poor children it’s cancelled in our house. At least in the way they want it it to be.
I’ve announced – to their little crestfallen faces – that I don’t mind cooking pumpkin pie and watching a scary movie. Maybe we can spookify the kitchen a little bit and read a ghost story or two. Hell, I’ll even wear a black dress and stick a wart on the end of my nose. I do understand the thrill of ghouls and gore, and the lure of danger and mischief. I just don’t know how they got caught up in all this crazy sugar and spending.
Perhaps if Christmas wasn’t looming on the horizon, it wouldn’t all feel so unnecessary. I wonder who we need to talk to about getting Halloween re-scheduled into February? Is there someone in charge of calendars at the Houses of Parliament? Actually don’t mention the Houses of Parliament, it only reminds me of Bonfire Night.
Anyway my children aren’t feeling too upset by my uncharacteristically pious move. Their dad and I are separated, so they’ve just decided to go and do Halloween at his house instead. The little devils.