Thursday, November 02, 2006

My Halloween History

Halloween is not my favorite holiday. When I was a kid, my mom made great handmade outfits for my brothers and me (she was a 4-H sewing champ) and I'm crazy for sweets so you'd think I would be a fan. However, I am w-i-m-p-y about anything scary so the whole haunted side of the holiday gives me the creeps. When I do celebrate, I carve happy Jack-o-lanterns, choose cheery costumes and skip the cobwebs, tombstones and werewolf howls.

I remember being excited for the Halloween haunted house at my elementary school. The teachers warned us that once we started to go through, we had to finish. There would be no early exits; no exceptions. I stepped through the door, heard the spooky music and immediately started bawling. I cried so hard they quickly made an exception to their "no exception" policy. No more haunted houses for me. I've never watched a horror movie and could only bear to watch Michael Jackson's Thriller video with one eye open. I'm a fan of The Simpsons and I faithfully TiVo each new show, but I'm not recording this week's annual "Treehouse of Horror" episode since I can't even handle scary cartoons.

In addition to the creep factor, Halloween ranks low on my holiday list because I don't enjoy dressing up. Some people love the challenge of creating a costume, but I don't! I never come up with very good ideas plus I just fret. Will I be uncomfortable? Will I be too dressed up? Or worse, not dressed up enough? Like the year I came to work as a gardener and no one even noticed that I was in costume. Because it is so common to wear overalls, a straw hat and galoshes to the office. Nevermind that I had my hair in pigtails and a spade in my front pocket. Argh.

When we moved into our house a few years ago, I started to get a little more excited for Halloween. It is fun to hand out candy and see the neighborhood cuties all dressed up (even though the doorbell rings only about 5 times thanks to the dark, rainy October nights here in Seattle). Last year we stayed in, dressed four-month old Jeeper in Halloween themed pajamas and answered the door. No stressful creative costuming and nothing scary. My perfect "all-hallows eve."

Jeep loves dogs, so this year I got him a puppy costume and made plans with a friend to take our babes to University Village for trick-or-treating. I told myself I was doing the right thing for the photo album and then prepared for some twoodler (like tween) fits of frustration. When one of my colleagues wished Jeep "lots of fun" on Halloween I responded with the observation that Halloween isn't exactly fun for one year olds. Not that it is torture, but fun for a one year old is a familiar place (like home) and an enthusiastic audience (especially one that will clap, cheer, sing and rough-house). Fun isn't big crowds, sitting for photos, wearing a weird hood or being urged to put treats in a basket.

I was right, Jeeper didn't burst into grins or giggles at any point during our Halloween adventures. He tolerated his hood, carefully observed all the commotion and took his treat taking very seriously. But what surprised me, in addition to his good behavior, was how much fun I had! The cool autumn air, the energy of all the families, the ease of a being with a good friend and the cuteness of my son together with the sugar high from a few mini candy bars made me into one happy Halloween mama. I'm already looking forward to celebrating Halloween as a family in the future. Just as long as I don't have to wear a costume any time soon.

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