My children won’t be celebrating Halloween this year. It’s by their own choice and to be honest the whole Halloween thing has been bothering me, as a mum, for a while now. Then the whole ‘sinister scary clown’ incidents started last year and this coincided with a confession from my eleven-year-old that he didn’t really like Halloween. My five-year-old started piping up asking if we could in fact Not celebrate Halloween, and finally my eighteen-year-old started raising concerns too.
There are a whole range of things that unsettle me about my children’s involvement in Halloween and actually how it affects them.
For instance, whether costumes are home made or shop bought it seems the trend is the scarier and more gruesome the better. To horrify and disgust rather than ‘a little spooky’. To be fair I have five children and buying costumes gets expensive. I found it more and more difficult to buy ‘suitable’ stuff that I either didn’t have to explain or that didn’t unsettle the smaller ones. I refused to incorporate blood or injuries into any dressing up and although there was a token moan my children never really pursued this and always had an excuse to hide behind with friends “yeah my mum made me wear this”. Yep that’s fine, as a mum, I’ll take that on the chin for you son.
Yet the pressure is on to look as scary as the next person especially at the school/friends Halloween party. It never ceases to amaze me how young children wear the costumes of characters from adult horror movies. Do these children know who they are supposed to be? And if so why?
Overall the pressure and conflict of emotions about costumes began to get too much for all of us.
Then there is the question of adults dressing up. Personally I have only indulged when the children had parties and even then it was a black dress and a witch’s hat. Now there exists truly disturbing outfits fit only for strictly adult events. Yet I have seen parents escort their ‘little monsters’ around the neighbourhood dressed in these outfits and wondered what the point was? Fun? If so on whose part?
Don’t get me started on those teenagers who turn up at your door with more and more realistic flesh wounds and hideous injuries expecting to be given sweets. Our routine was to stay comfortably and home and then all answer the door and graciously give out Halloween treats, but these older scavengers ruined it. I simply couldn’t trust that when I opened the door that an apparition that would traumatism us all wouldn’t be on stood on the threshold.
Then there is of course the whole answering the door to these uninvited rather demanding strangers. There is something unsettling to me as an adult to dole out anything to someone whose face I cannot see. Call me old fashioned but I find it rude rather like the etiquette of removing your hat indoors.
Even when I could see their faces these children aren’t local, neither me nor my children know any of them. Should I really be handing out sweets to unknown children who come cold calling? Whatever happened to Stranger Danger?
And yes they are exactly doing just that ‘cold calling’, coming unbidden, uninvited and somewhat unwelcome knocking on my door ‘Trick or Treating’. This somehow feels like a demand, some sort of expectation or threat which offends me.
Sometimes they knock late in the evening when my children are in bed and will persist even when the lights are off and curtains are closed. So I am forced to decide do I answer to keep them quiet or ignore them and hope they don’t wake the children. Do I invoke the wrath of the Trick element which could include damage to my property by ignoring them?
And yet Halloween is everywhere. It features on TV ads, in supermarkets, parks, people decorating their houses and even in schools.
Sometimes I have avoided well know shops and supermarkets due to Halloween displays. It became so that my youngest would say ‘don’t look mammy’ and try to shield my face.
Yet I indulged for the sake of fitting in, for the sake of my children ‘missing out’, ignoring the cost, fighting the fears, accepting pressure until it was my children who said “enough”.
This blog came after that fact. After I considered what was happening, what we as a family were having to put up with. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t an angry rant. I am not a kill joy mother or over protective, I simply choose not to fall in with a tradition that desensitises my children at best and scares the wits out of them at worst.
It truly is a case of each to their own and every family has their own traditions that signify who they all are, how they interact and what is important to them. We chose not to embrace Halloween conventionally this year and instead are celebrating a mish mash of the foundations of it.
We will celebrate the end of the 6 months of light and the beginning of the half a year of dark by hanging coloured lights. We will enjoy wonderful warm Autumn food and perhaps throw a little party of our own. Without fear, gore and Freddie Kruger.