Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fried Chicken Wednesday: Halloween for Dummies

My favorite holiday is Halloween and because it falls on a Wednesday this year, I am inclined to compare that love to a platter of buttermilk-battered deep fried chicken!  I'm not sure how long I've felt this way, but maybe it is because I have lots of great Halloween memories: like the year that the future husband and I spent an entire afternoon in my parents' basement with a bunch of kids carving pumpkins.  (Of course, the same is true of every other major holiday with themes that encourage creativity with construction paper, scissors and glue sticks.  Which is probably why I have yet to find the excitement in Thanksgiving.)

However, as an admitted Craft Project Junkie, Halloween takes me there without pushing me totally overboard like Christmas.  Let's face it--there comes a moment when no amount of tinsel, glitter, glue guns, beads, baubles, pipe cleaners, Popsicle sticks, felt, and artificial snow will make up for the fact that no one really cares that you made all those crappy ornaments and decorations yourself.  Yet, people are actually impressed when you make your own Halloween costume, even if all you did was dress in all black, accent with a few leopard print items already in your wardrobe, staple some cat ears made from construction paper onto a headband, and draw some whiskers on your face.  Voila, you were a cute kitten and you can wear that belt again! 

Of course, Halloween has its downside.  There are those weird people (like my grandmother) who give away toothbrushes, fruit and rolls of pennies instead of candy.  Or the people (like my Dad) who pass out candy that no one wants like candy corn, butterscotch or Almond Joy.  Sometimes there are overly protective parents who politely chastise you for not offering alternatives for kids with nut allergies, or mannerless children who neglect to say thank-you after demanding extra pieces of gluten-free candy.  Among those in the the too-old-for-trick-or-treating-set, there are teenaged girls and grown women dressed like slutty naughty maids, cocktail waitresses, nurses, police officers, animals, angels/devils, cheerleaders, or anything else that encourages fishnets paired with micro miniskirts.  This is especially problematic when the male compliment is a pimp costume...

Then there is that person in every neighborhood who puts out a self-righteous sign pooh-poohing the decline of American values (I'm kidding).  Actually, I'm only half-kidding...there are folks who defiantly keep their lights off because they oppose Halloween on the ridiculous premise that it is satanic.  I'm quite sure that these are the same folks who hate PBS and Big Bird.

Halloween can be universally enjoyed by children and adults.  Children just want the candy and go along with the costumes because it makes adults happy; adults love the costumes and the candy.  It is a win-win!

It is not all about the candy for us, though.  We love Halloween for the joy it brings.  For instance, because she will be unavailable and is still too young for trick-or-treating tonight, the husband and I took the Baby Niece to a Halloween party at a Montessori school on Saturday (actually, it was a Harvest Night Celebration, but let's not get bogged down by PC-semantics).  Since we do not have children of our own, and as we are too square for the pimp/ho costume crowd, do not have any moral objections to harmless dress up, and barely three kids ever come trick-or-treating in our neighborhood anymore, we have to focus our Halloween energy on someone who is still young enough to appreciate it.  That and the fact that the Baby Niece was sufficiently hyped after a pumpkin patch trip with the godchildren last weekend, she needed someplace to wear her witch costume other than to nursery school.  And ever the Craft Project Junkie, I stayed up the night before cutting and pasting her a custom-made loot bag.  

Of course you already know that I got sick that night after the party, but to see the look on her face, it was all worth it!  So what if we missed the roasted marshmallows because she was inside not eating her $5 bowl of chili and acting afraid of her shadow?  It only took her half an hour or so to overcome her fears of the other children to accompany the husband on a scavenger hunt for healthy snacks and cheap novelties to stuff into her homemade Halloween treat bag.  It was pure delight to see her dive into a haystack and hold her own against a gang of boys in order to find more useless crap.  She made friends with some kid dressed as Buzz Lightyear because he was giving away candy that he apparently did not want.  She then decided to express her creativity through some art projects, wielding a glue bottle with the expertise of a child only two to three years older.  And despite the fact that she had declared just 20 minutes earlier that she would not get her hands dirty, she demanded access to the finger paint in order to make fuzzy bat wings.  We took her outside to play with her potions (confetti) and broom, whereupon she pretended to fly to the top of the building and back down again, froze and unfroze the husband with her potions, and then promptly swept up after herself.

Now I ask you, how could we deny our precious Baby Niece of that type of joy?  Why should she miss out on fun because some people thought that it was "doing too much" to have gotten her a toy broom to go with the witch costume that we bought for her?  Or when she needed a place to put her bag of potion, why would I allow her to carry it in her Dora Easter pail when not only was that from the wrong time of the year, but it also clashed with her costume?  And why should she not have a custom-made treat bag with her name on it?  And why should her beloved Tio be denied the opportunity to eat whatever leftover carrots, pretzels, tortilla chips, granola bars, etc that she requested but barely touched? 

I ask you, isn't that the true meaning of Halloween?

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