Chacos column: Do I hang onto Halloween when I’m the only one?
Enjoy the Ride
I’m in the garage looking for the bin labeled Halloween when I’m told, “It’s way too soon to bring out the skeletons and spider webs.” I try to defend my enthusiasm for the ghoulish tchotchkes that have been buried away for a year, but my youngest child walks out before I can respond.
With sweat dripping down my back because the sun still suffocates this time of year, I wonder when everyone in my family turned into such autumnal killjoys.
The distance between my family and me grows the rest of September because of comments like, “Bobbing for apples is gross” and “I never realized trick-or-treating is for little kids.” I’m gutted for the harvest festivals we’ll no longer attend together, searching for the perfect pumpkin and doubt there will be late-night negotiating for peanut-butter cups after we’ve turned off the porch lights on Halloween night.
The schism becomes the size of the San Andreas Fault when no one wants to shop for costumes at the mall or spend an evening with me at the 13th Floor Haunted House in Denver. My heart for Halloween sinks since those events ushered in a time for silly mischief. My children are growing up and turning into prototypes of my husband. He thinks dressing up as a taco is childish, and my pranks are outdated.
Not one to let sentimentality overcome me, I recommit to my favorite season and double down my efforts to hang onto a holiday with few formal customs and expectations. Like a classic horror movie, I wait for a nondescript moment one night under a new moon to surprise my unimpressed children and exploit their fears.
“We’re going to The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park on Halloween weekend!” Then, I maximize the effect by adding, “I’ve reserved room 237 for the family.”
This feels too easy because no one initially cares about the hotel, the room number or even the idea of a family weekend without cell service. The dim-witted teenagers have been caught off-guard, too consumed in their daily lives to know what’s happening.
As expected, the children finally unite against me, their protagonist, arguing why this family activity will be “stupid” and “lame.” Their logic continually runs into dead-ends, one more incoherent than the next.
My husband finally asks, “Do I have to go, too?” and I slash him on the spot. He sits in awkward silence for the remainder of the evening, and the kids continue to flail about in the background.
Despite staying one step ahead of the gang, nostalgia seeps through my veins. I yearn for the Halloween of yesteryear. I miss holding hands with a tiny ghost and walking the neighborhood showing off our zombie made from a month’s worth of toilet paper. I look through old photos carving pumpkins with friends, wipe away a tear and bring out the holiday bucket of bloody body parts anyway.
I make the kids watch “The Shining,” Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s classic novel of the same name. My children find the movie slow and “kinda boring” because kids these days couldn’t identify superior suspense if their mom walks them through a hedge maze on Halloween weekend to find it.
As October approaches, I hold onto my outdated holiday rituals and finally get permission to decorate the house in garish ways. The decorations no longer scare my children. I realize it’s time to say goodbye to how we celebrated Halloween when they were little, or I need to buy real organs and learn to operate a chainsaw.
Eventually, my children will piece together the importance of family rituals and togetherness, like I do with the smell of candlelit pumpkin on a crisp autumn night. And, when they ask why I still hang onto Halloween, I will peer my head through a white door, give a sideways smile and say nothing, or maybe, I’ll slur, “Heeeeere’s Johnny!”
Andrea Chacos lives in Carbondale, balancing work and happily raising three children with her husband. She strives to dodge curveballs life likes to throw with a bit of passion, humor, and some flair. She can be reached at AndreaChacos.com
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