Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Saints vs the Druids: All Hallow's Peeve

There is no escaping Halloween. I believe it is now the second most festive American holiday, trailing only Christmas in its Bulb-to-Populace Ratio. You can’t even walk into a drugstore in October without some plastic contraption springing to life and shrieking at you. The market for fake webbing has to rival the “sweet spot” that candy companies count on each fall. I’m not suggesting that anyone ignore Halloween. No one with kids has that option. As soon as September 1 rolled around, both my 4-year-old and 6-year-old cried gleefully, “It’s ALMOST Halloween!” U.S. retailers couldn’t agree more. I’ve been battling ghosts, werewolves, vampires and spiders for two solid months. (To be fair, spiders are a year-round squeal opportunity in Florida.) But that’s TWO months out of the twelve we are allotted each year. That seems excessive for a holiday that, technically, gives us ZERO days off from school or work. Maybe getting an evening off from reality is supposed to be enough. As a parent you need to find a happy medium (or medium well, anyway) between the Ode to Satan Faction and the Pretend It Doesn’t Exist Crowd. As a general rule I’m opposed to witchcraft (black, white or plaid), blood sacrifices, worship of nature, and costumes that make you itch or sweat. On the other hand, I don’t feel we need to concede the holiday to Beelzebub just because a few pagans are demanding federal tax exemptions for their fright wigs and black nail polish. I heard on the radio that South Floridians (who recently endured the Wrath of Hurricane Wilma) were being advised to NOT send the children trick-or-treating after dark in areas that have not yet had power restored. Hopefully they got the message on their battery-operated radios? It’s interesting to imagine just what South Florida’s trick-or-treaters would be getting in their loot bags as they go door to door. Stale bread! Curdled milk! Defrosted peas! Miscellaneous debris that hitchhiked from Cancun! There was another urgent announcement to watch out for predatory child molesters. I guess it is illegal for them to dress up in enticing costumes such as the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus or FEMA workers. But apparently it is okay for them to pretend to be mummies, zombies, Darth Vader or IRS agents! For me the solution is simple. As long as the kids are trick-or-treating, Hubby or I will be going around with them. If they don’t mind going door-to-door with mom and dad at age 15, well, so be it! This year marked a big step forward for them. They finally graduated to having their own costumes. Previously I had just bought them various cartoon or superhero character pajamas, claimed it was a “costume,” and then neatly folded it into the laundry cycle once Halloween was over. Now, unfortunately, they can tell the difference between pajamas and a genuine costume. So this year we had to spring for one Power Ranger outfit and one Ninja Turtle costume. Of course with kids this age you hit the street fairly early, before 6 pm, in order to maximize your use of daylight hours. While the kids were trick-or-treating for candies, the mosquitoes were trick-or-treating on my skin. In spite of me emptying half a bottle of bug spray on each of the kids, plus myself and my brother Rob who was visiting. The 6-year-old looked like he had been training for this event all year. He raced from door to door with frightening speed, slowing down only when I insisted he wait for his brother. Fortunately we were going around with friends up the street, one of whom kept up with my son, and the other of whom lagged behind with the 4-year-old. They were dressed up as Spiderman I and Spiderman II. They're not twins, just Brotherly Arachnids. At one point my 6-year-old, in the process of hurtling door-to-door, managed to trip over an extension cord. He maintained his balance, but we could all see this large inflated Spooky Something rapidly losing air. It was deflating with the speed of the U.S. economy! Fortunately that problem got fixed by Jennifer Campbell, who was one of our entourage along with her two kids. It seemed the older kids were acquiring candy at speeds high enough to cause their costumes to become a blur. By the end of the evening I was dragging. I vowed next year I would rent a 6-person golf cart and tour the neighborhood in style. Then we could pack all the right accessories such as DEET Deep Woods Off brand bug spray, child molester spray, exploding python spray, speeding vehicle spray, cranky neighbor spray and any other sprays I may not have thought of. Plus flashlights, reflective vests, lightsticks and giant, spinning strobes. That way cars will see us, and aliens will fear us. And for the record, on the following day the 6-year-old dressed up as St. Francis as he and his first grade class were star participants in the All Saints Day Mass. St. Francis was a Power Ranger in his own right, and calling on a Power infinitely stronger than anything running around on the Druid’s Night Out.

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