Orange is not the new black: Why I hate Halloween

A 7-year-old guest in my home recently asked: “How come you don’t have any Halloween decorations up?”

I told him the half-truth that since we recently moved to this house, I don’t exactly know where the decorations are. (The other half: If I looked for them, I’d probably find them in the attic.)

The witch in me wanted to tell him the whole truth: I hate Halloween.

On one hand, I know this admission is sacrilege, to be a parent and dislike a holiday so adored by kids. On the other hand, I find it ironic that it’s sacrilege to dislike something that scholars trace to festivals of the dead with possible pagan roots.

My dislike has increased over time. Yes, I dressed up and enjoyed trick-or-treating as a child. And in my 20s, I had one of my best costumes ever – some friends and I bought official Girl Scout uniforms, burnt the edges of them with candles, painted our faces with charcoal, and went bar-hopping as a "Girl Scout troop that had a campfire go awry."

But then I had kids, and with them came so many Halloween demands. It is some of these that have turned the entire month of October – all 31 days of buildup – into sheer drudgery.

“Is that all you got?”

The first year the community Halloween parade passed in front of our house when our kids were little, I was chastised by a neighbor: “Is that ALL the decorations you have?” she said, laughing at the garbage bag ghosts I had hung from the tree limbs in a last ditch effort to decorate. Although I tried for years after that to amass cooler decorations, my kids would point to the neighbors’ always-bigger, always-better inflatable pumpkin, or perfect grave yard, or spooky what-have-you, and note that ours would never compare.  

“I changed my mind”

When the kids were young, the Lillian Vernon catalog would arrive in September and they would start circling what costumes they wanted. I learned the hard way that if you don’t order or hit Target early, the costumes go out of stock. But if you order/buy too early, little Spiderman wears his costume every day until the day before Halloween, and then decides he changed his mind, he’d rather be Superman.

Related story: Treats and traditions: Why I love Halloween

The $60 princess

My oldest is now a teen and with that comes Halloween-themed parties. Last year’s was a princess theme (for 14-year-old girls) and my raven-haired kid thought she’d make the perfect Jasmine, the princess from Disney’s Aladdin. Oh, she was perfect all right, wearing Jasmine’s costume —turquoise and gold bejeweled, crop top and genie pants — which cost a pretty penny and was worn, exactly, once. (On Halloween night, she dressed in black and went as a Ninja, princesses be damned.)

“That 7-month-old candy is MINE.”

The [fake] rat that makes me hate Halloween more.

I’m not a stickler about kids eating candy, as long as it’s in moderation, so I don’t feel the need to pass out toothbrushes or stickers on Halloween night. That said, when the candy loot comes home, my kids do a full-on battle trading this for that, and then sealing their stashes in large tins which are marked in Sharpie pen: “This is XXX’s candy. Do Not Touch.” Those tins sit in the pantry and take up space for months. And then it will be May and one of them will reach for the last 3 Musketeers in the other’s tin and the MINE war breaks out. Over 7-month-old candy.

Rats! Mom’s a scaredy cat

Aside from all the other annoyances, I admit the scare-factor of Halloween plays a role in why I dislike it. Monsters oozing blood? Zombies? Those don’t do anything. It’s the real stuff that freaks me out, and my family knows this.

For years, my husband had this incredibly creepy Planet of the Apes mask that just terrified me. It was originally part of a costume but for years later, he’d come into the room wearing it and scare the bejesus out of me. When it’s February, and you are innocently folding laundry, you don’t expect an ape to come from behind and grab you.

The ape mask eventually disintegrated and has thankfully not been replaced. Until now.

Just last week, I was making dinner and opened the pantry door. The blood-curdling scream came from me, as I reached for the box of penne pasta and came face to face with a rat! It was large and furry and, upon closer inspection, fake.

My loving family had bought it knowing that I hate rats as much as I hate this holiday. And I suppose it's a prank this Halloween grinch totally deserves.