(note: all spooky gifs are unrelated to the actual content of my post)
I do not enjoy Halloween as a holiday. I like certain things. I like candy, obviously. I like silly, spooky stuff. I also think it’s cool for kids to be able to have a day where they pretend they are someone else. Perhaps someone they admire or aspire to be like. It can be a powerful thing for a child’s imagination. I also think that the entire concept of cosplay is really cool, and some people make just unbelievable costumes. So, if I like all these things, what’s the problem?
Halloween hates me.
Halloween and I got along fine when I was a young kid. I’d dress up. I’d go trick-or-treating. I’d get more yummy candy than I could eat (though a lot of the candy would be crap, like DOTS). We’d even get to dress up at school and have a party. We’d do this sort of parade through the gym in our costumes and any parents that wanted to visit would gather and see us dressed up.
Over the years, a new trend popped up called “trunk or treating.” If you don’t know what this is, people in a local area will all bring their cars and kids to a parking lot (at a school or church most typically) and hand out treats from the trunk of their car. From a parenting perspective, this is great. You can just stand in one spot and watch your kid run around asking for candy. It’s safe. It’s well-lit. It’s over very fast. Your kid gets lots of candy in a very short period of time. As a kid, I hated it. It took all the fun out of trick or treating. Like, my parents could just set a bowl of candy on the kitchen counter that they bought at the store and I’d get essentially the same experience. Trunk or treating was stupid. But this is all a tangent.
Things really changed for me in 5th grade. My family moved to a new neighborhood about 10 minutes west of where I had grown up thus far. This was a wild time for me. In the school change, I got a teacher that sucked and killed my love of school. I also got bullied for a couple months (thankfully it didn’t last longer). But, on the whole, this was a very positive change. I made friends! And not just friends I’d play with at recess. These were friends I’d actually spend time with outside of school! After school, on weekends, and all summer long, I’d have people to play with! This was a truly important, life-altering experience for me. I’m very grateful for it. My 3 best friends meant more to me than almost anything in the world.
This all leads us to 6th grade. I was out trick or treating with James, one of those best friends. I had a pillowcase full of candy! Then we decided to walk down one last street at the end of the night. This is the worst-lit street in our neighborhood. James had brought a flashlight with him. He was using it to light our way as we walked down the street. He shines it across the street to the other side and we see a couple kids on bikes. They roll over to us and get in our faces about how we shined a light in their eyes and that made them mad. One of them grabs my bag of candy right out of my hands and says they’re gonna take it because we shined a light in their faces (never mind that I wasn’t even the one holding the flashlight). So they take off on their bikes. James chases after them but simply cannot hope to catch up on foot. After a whole night of successful trick or treating, I had my entire bag of candy stolen. This still upsets me when I think about it. It was so cruel. I hope that those two little bastards have grown up and that they look back at this event with regret every Halloween.
The next year was even worse. I was with 2 or 3 of these friends this time. As we walked down a street, one of my friends joked about throwing candy at a passing car. Idiot pre-teen that I was, I took this as a bright idea. I reached into my bag and pulled out an Almond Joy (which I would never eat myself, almonds are nasty). I threw it at the next car to pass by. They slammed on their brakes and jumped out to yell at us. It was some Hispanic people, probably around 30 years old. There was a lady (the driver) and three dudes. They were furious. Finally, they let us go. We walk away. Then, a few minutes later, they track us down around the corner and hop out of their vehicle again. They were literally threatening violence against me. I don’t remember specifically what they said, but I remember very distinctly feeling that my life was in danger. No matter how severely I apologized, they would not relent. Not until James’ parents happened by (they were out with his youngest brother) and his dad asked if there was a problem. Then the 4 people hopped back in their car and took off.
This, needless to say, was a traumatic experience. And I’m deeply ashamed to say that I let this trauma color my view of Hispanic people. I’ve talked before about how I was a huge racist against Hispanic people (Mexicans in particular) as a teenager (I was also super politically conservative, coincidence?). This event kind of started me on that path. Idiot kid that I was, I made the assumption that all Hispanic people were like these four. It would be years, after becoming an adult, that I learned how deeply wrong I was. I am so grateful that I had positive experiences with Hispanic people as an adult that completely disproved all of my erroneous conceptions.
In high school, I had one more miserable Halloween. In 10th grade. Basically from 7th-10th grade, I had a massive crush on a girl named Melissa. By the time I got to 10th grade, we had out-grown trick or treating. We wanted to hang out with girls and watch scary movies and whatnot. We had invited Melissa and a couple other girls to a friend’s house. It should be noted that Melissa was definitely aware how I felt about her. And so was everybody else, at least I thought. The entire night, Melissa and 1 of my 3 best friends were flirting with each other. To a ridiculous degree. I don’t think they were even interested in each other (or at least, she wasn’t). But she was a huge flirt and focused it all on him that night. Right in front of me. Looking back, I can see that she did it on purpose. And I’m not saying she was wrong or right to do this. I can’t judge her for that. All I can say, is that it hurt. I was in pain watching one of my closest friends flirt so egregiously with this girl that I had been uncontrollably infatuated with for years. That was a miserable Halloween, and it was very hard on my friendship with that particular best friend.
In the years since, I have put no effort into celebrating the holiday. I do not dress up. I don’t enjoy handing out candy. And I make no effort to pretend to like or enjoy the day.
What makes this worse is my mother. She was born on Halloween. She hates that. She’s been called a witch her whole life for it. And she never gets to celebrate her birthday, because we’re always too busy doing Halloween. She hates her birthday, every year. Every year I tell her to skip Halloween. Go on a cruise! Go on vacation! But she won’t do it. No idea why. But, whenever I make remarks about how I dislike Halloween or how I’m not looking forward to it, she gets all offended and sarcastic. “Oh, so you don’t like my birthday? I’m sorry my birthday is such a burden for you.” So my pain becomes all about her. No matter how hard I try to get her to do something about her birthday (why not celebrate it a few days before or after the holiday?). She seems to enjoy on some level that she gets to be miserable and upset at people for disregarding her birthday.
I haven’t had anything too dramatic happen on Halloween since that day in high school. *knocks on wood* But something always finds a way to go wrong. Today I forgot my cell phone at home when I went to work. I never do that. Seriously. I am completely addicted to my phone. But here I am. Phone-less. On one of my least favorite days of the year. Halloween truly does hate me.
But enough about me! How do you feel about Halloween? Have any memorable stories of the holiday that you’d like to share? Let us know down below!