Is Halloween the New Christmas?

I actually think I wrote that very sentiment two years ago, so I’m clearly not original in my thinking, even amongst my own thoughts!

But don’tcha think it’s true? A few weeks ago, NPR predicted record Halloween retail sales, even in the face of an economy so scary it makes the big kids’ haunted house at our school carnival look tame.

There’s ample evidence in my house, where I’ll admit I take holidays far smaller than Halloween to the nth degree. (Groundhog Day cookies, anyone?)

I say, why not. Life is short, holidays are fun. Go for it. But then I wind up looking and feeling like Sophie, the morning after a late night at the aforementioned carnival. She woke up with a big face-painted eyeball on her forehead (which she insisted on wearing to ballet) and two big bags under the real ones.

I mention our carnival because for me it’s come to symbolize the real kick off of Halloween, even if the house has already been decorated for weeks — the start, really, of all the debauchery of the holiday season, since I have to brace myself for the onslaught of Christmas on November 1.

Every year, I ruin much of my Christmas season (like I even technically get one, as a Jew — it’s a sad power grab I shamefully make each year) by being pissed at the world for refusing to honor the Day After Thanksgiving rule. Last week, as I glared at the Santa hats hanging jauntily on signs on the diaper aisle at CVS pharmacy, I willed myself to let go — who cares? More to celebrate, right?

And it’s not like I haven’t started my own holiday shopping yet.

Back to Halloween. Sometime, today (around a full work day), I have to get over to Safeway to purchase the accoutrement for pumpkin carving, since Annabelle has a friend from East India who had never carved a pumpkin til she did it last year with us — and the girls want to repeat the experience. Tonight. I also have to shovel the backyard til I find the table I know is on the patio out there, somewhere, under a summer’s worth of crap. (Not literally crap — at least, I hope not. I don’t think so.)

I have to remember to buy icing and candy corn (no small feat, Safeway was entirely out of CC the other day — further proof of Halloween Gone Mad) for the kindergarten Halloween celebration, and figure out what they’re doing in Annabelle’s class. I need to buy candy that the kids and Ray like but that I won’t want to scarf down. And I better get rid of the real cobwebs on the front porch; too scary.

The costumes are ready. That’s good. As long as both girls agree to stay those characters. Every day, Sophie announces a new choice. Let’s hope the temperature dips below 90 by Friday, or she’ll be sweltering in her full-body furry Cookie Monster costume.

OK, now I have to go try to get the spray paint off my hand — after a very messy but satisfying experience with glitter, glue and baby pumpkins last year, I tried to short cut it with glittery spray paint (a friend swears by it, but every craft she touches turns to glittery gold, while I have no such luck) and made a big mess, so I switched to chalkboard paint on the pumpkins — you know, chalk Jack o Lanterns.

Too freaking cute, huh? I do make myself a little sick.

For years, Ray has stood by watched all this. Sometimes he’ll pat my head, sometimes he’ll get mad. But as the kids have gotten older and love it all so much, he’s softened. This year he insisted we put all the Halloween decorations up as a family.

We’ll see how pumpkin carving goes tonight.

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