Skip to content

Five ways to hate Halloween less.

10/25

I haven’t always hated Halloween. Like most kids, I probably liked it for the first decade or so. Dressing up. Staying out late. Getting candy. Eating candy. What’s not to like, really?

Then in 1975, I made a supreme error in judgment. When I could have been anything — a Disney princess, a disco dancer, or even a superhero (after all, Wonder Woman debuted that year) – whom did I choose?

Martha Washington.

The ‘why’ remains a mystery. I’m guessing it wasn’t because of her pro-slavery stance, nor her initial opposition to her husband’s presidency. More likely it was because we had a Martha Washington-esque outfit on hand, and with four kids to outfit – two of them boys — Martha somehow defaulted to me.

Oddly, I wasn’t embarrassed to be the first First Lady. Even after door upon door of “oh, you must be … um, who are you?” and the snide remarks of other kids, I somehow managed to maintain enthusiasm for my unique costume.

Until I tripped on my dress, splitting my elbow open to the bone.

And that is the precise moment at which I started hating Halloween. (I still have the scar to prove it.)

For a long time I was able to mask my hatred simply by choosing to ignore the holiday altogether. But after my son was born, I had no choice but to conform. I bought costumes. I sewed costumes. I bought candy. My neighbor created a haunted house so successful the local reservation sent busloads of kids to our neighborhood to enjoy it. When the candy ran out after an hour, I bought more.

My son, the firefighter (circa 1997)

Now that my son is a high school senior and I’m facing my last Halloween with him at home, I’m surprisingly nostalgic. No regrets about the time I spent on costumes – a cowboy, Robin Hood, a firefighter, Pokemon, Harry Potter, a Death Eater cloak, a vampire using the recycled Death Eater cloak.

And truth be told, remembering the joy every costume — and every Halloween — has brought my son over the years really helps soften the edges of even a curmudgeon like me.

So Martha, although it’s taken me 35 years, I forgive you. But this year I think I’ll be Wonder Woman instead. And I’ll even try not to hate it.

Five Ways to Hate Halloween Less

1. Set a candy budget.
(Mine is now $30, or 10 to 15 bags of candy.) Buy it on sale and DO NOT EAT IT. Of course Halloween candy goes on sale in August because they want you to eat it. Don’t give in. (My sister-in-law says this is much easier to do if you steer clear of your favorite candy, but I’ve been known to lower my candy standards in desperate times.)

2. Stick to the candy budget.
In my neighborhood, it’s nearly impossible to plan exactly how much candy to have on hand. If I run out of candy before the last doorbell ring, I turn out my light, lock up my house, and go relieve a neighbor for a while.

3. Keep the decorations simple.
It’s fine to indulge little ones with a few nods to Halloween, but going overboard can lead to stress. Stress in putting it up. Stress in taking it down. Stress in storing it.

Since 1998, my exterior Halloween décor has consisted of two electrified jack-o-lanterns that go up Oct. 31 at 5 p.m. and come down the next morning. While that might be considered overly minimalist by some, it’s a huge stress reducer for me.

One of my favorite, easy ways to decorate for Halloween indoors is to use candy corn as vase filler. Kids love it, it’s cheap, and if you dry it out first, you can even reuse it from year to year. (Disgusting, but true. At least if you live in Arizona.)

4. If you can’t beat ‘em
When I feel the Halloween dread start to creep in, it helps to remember that it’s really about making kids happy. (Though again, I think there are much better ways of doing this.) My friends Kim and Tammy deserve a medal for their efforts in helping me come around, too. They decorate. They wear stylish witch hats. But most important, they celebrate by welcoming neighbors to stop by, chat and get to know one another.

5. Do not dress up as Martha Washington.

ve handy tips for not hating Halloween.

I haven’t always hated Halloween. Like most kids, I probably liked it for the first decade or so. Dressing up. Staying out late. Getting tons of free candy.

What’s not to like?

Then in 1975, I made a supreme error in judgment that has tainted every Halloween since. When I could have been a Disney princess, a disco dancer, or, better yet, a superhero — Wonder Woman debuted that year – whom did I choose?

Martha Washington.

The ‘why’ remains a mystery. I’m guessing it wasn’t her pro-slavery stance, nor her initial opposition to her husband’s presidency. More likely it was because we had a Martha Washington-esque outfit on hand, and with four kids to outfit – two of them boys — Martha somehow defaulted to me.

Oddly, I wasn’t embarrassed to be the first First Lady. Even after door upon door of “oh, you must be … um, who are you?” and the snide remarks of other kids, I somehow managed to maintain enthusiasm for my unique costume.

Until I tripped on my dress, fell and tore open my elbow to the bone.

And that was the precise moment at which I started hating Halloween. (I still have the scar to prove it.)

For a long time I was able to mask my hatred simply by choosing to ignore the holiday altogether. But after my son was born, I had no choice but to conform. I sewed costumes. I bought candy. My neighbor created a haunted house so successful that the local reservation sent busloads of kids to our neighborhood to enjoy it. When the candy ran out after two hours, I bought more candy. I did my part.

Now that my son is a high school senior and I’m facing my last Halloween with him at home, I’m surprisingly nostalgic. No regrets about the time I spent on costumes – a cowboy, Robin Hood, Pokemon, Harry Potter, a Death Eater cloak, a vampire using the recycled Death Eater cloak. And in hindsight, seeing the joy every costume brought my son over the years has really helped soften the edges of my dislike.

So Martha, although it’s taken me 35 years, I forgive you. But this year, I think I’ll be Wonder Woman. And I’ll try not to hate it so much.

How to Not Hate Halloween.

1. Set a candy budget (mine is now $20 or 10 to 12 bags of candy). Buy on sale and DO NOT EAT IT. Of course, they put Halloween candy on sale in August. They want you to eat it. Don’t give in.

2. Stick to the candy budget. In my neighborhood, it’s nearly impossible to plan exactly how much candy to have on hand. If I run out of candy before the last doorbell ring, I turn out my light, lock up my house, and go relieve a neighbor for a while.

3. Keep the decorations simple. It’s fine to indulge little ones with a few nods to Halloween, but going overboard only creates stress. Since 1998, my Halloween décor has consisted of two electrified jack-o-lanterns that go up Oct. 31 at 5 p.m. and come down the next morning. While that might be considered overly minimalist by some, it’s a huge stress reducer. Stress in putting it up. Stress in taking it down. Stress in storing it. One of my favorite, easy ways to decorate for Halloween is to use candy corn as vase filler. Kids love it, it’s cheap, and if you dry it out first, you can even reuse it from year to year.

4. If you can’t beat ‘em… My friends Kim and Tammy deserve most of the credit for softening my anti-Halloween stance. They decorate. They wear stylish witch hats. But most important, they celebrate by welcoming neighbors to stop by, chat and get to know one another.

5. Do not dress up as Martha Washington.

http://www.womansday.com/Articles/Shelter/Decorating/7-DIY-Candy-Corn-Decorations.html

Advertisements
13 Comments leave one →
  1. Catherine permalink
    10/25 11:03 AM

    I love you Jennifer, you are hilarious! We had what was meant to be a pumpkin carving party for 50 on Saturday night. Little did I know that the Giants would be playing their winning, take-it-to-the World Series game that night, so the party turned into a baseball playoff party instead. Fortunately, the Giants’ colors are orange and black, so my decorations became multi-purpose and appropriate for both occasions. Also, it RAINED! 50 people came, I think three carved their pumpkins outside under an EZ UP. The rest ate and talked and rejoiced in the glory of the torture of Giants baseball. The moral of this story? Have fun and be flexible….even on Halloween. :)

    • Jennifer permalink*
      10/25 11:09 AM

      Was dying to hear how the party ended up! Sounds perfect — and I’m sure you were credited in large part with the Giants’ win (the final moments of which we watched at the clubhouse during a wedding reception, no less).

      Have fun and be flexible — sage advice from one of my most admired hostesses. Thanks! (And love you, too.)

  2. 10/25 11:06 AM

    On behalf of all the Martha’s everywhere who were constantly asked (by mean small town Utah kids) “Hey Martha, WHERE’S GEORGE?” I absolve you of any responsibility toward Halloween and thank you for your participation honoring Martha Washington.

    Amen.

    Why did I buy candy corn at all?

  3. Catherine permalink
    10/25 11:18 AM

    One more tip….buy candy that you hate, or at least don’t like. I can resist a fair amount of the candy out there, but bring Nestle’s $100,000 bars into my house and it’s all over. I will literally eat them until I am sick. It’s pathetic.

    • Jennifer permalink*
      10/25 11:27 AM

      Great suggestion — added! :-)

  4. 10/26 8:09 AM

    FIrst, love your post–I can hear your voice as I read it.

    Second, thank you for the shout-out. You and Chris have a standing invitation to our home for all future Halloweens that we are privileged to experience.

    Third, I am now craving candy corn, but cannot partake since I’m like an addict and the first 100 are never enough.

    • Jennifer permalink*
      10/26 8:49 AM

      Mission accomplished — the whole purpose of the post was to secure a standing invite! :-) Thanks for always being the one bright spot in an otherwise dismal ‘holiday’…

  5. 10/28 6:42 AM

    Jennifer,
    I LOVE reading your blog. I think you are pretty fabulous, and I am excited to be your friend. Thanks for sharing and bringing a smile to my face…LOVE IT!

    • Jennifer permalink*
      10/28 7:28 AM

      Thanks so much, Joy! And ditto on the fabulous and friendship…

  6. Lex DeNovo permalink
    12/20 11:43 PM

    Martha Washington. THAT’S funny. Of course, it wouldn’t be funny if it were me, but…

  7. Beth Beuley permalink
    11/06 5:34 AM

    Martha was definitely before I knew you but am glad to know that I was not the only one with “creative” halloween costumes. As one of seven children I can say my mother knew long before all of us the secrets of an “edited” life. It was a necessity for her. So when Halloween came along her approach was no different…..seven costumes are a lot of costumes! Consequently, our costumes were always something made from something else or something we already had.

    Since my mother was a gifted seamstress and an active member or our church we always had a supply of costumes for the Christmas Nativity Pageant. More than once I trick or treated as the Blessed Mother or the Angel Gabriel! The boys usually got the Wise Men costumes. I shared this story with my daughters the other night and they thought it was hilarious. They wanted to know what people thought when they opened the door and saw “Mary” standing there? The funny thing is, it never occurred to me to wonder? I thought everyone trick or treated, at some point in their lives, as a character from the Nativity. In retrospect, I am guessing everyone wondered if the Bogdan children knew the difference between Halloween and Christmas. XO, Beth

    • 11/06 8:05 AM

      That is HILARIOUS, Beth! Sad we didn’t go trick or treating together in high school — would have loved to see the combo we’d create.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: