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Monday, September 21, 2009

Halloween, The Day That Lasts for Weeks (Months?)

We have these holidays for which we spend weeks in preparation. When I was a kid it seemed like you started thinking about Halloween a couple of weeks before hand. You remembered that it was coming, decided what you were going to dress up as, stuck some cardboard decorations up on the doors and windows a few days ahead of time, maybe made a jack-o-lantern, mom bought some candy, and then the day came. It was always exciting getting up in the morning and dressing up in costume to parade around the schoolyard. There wasn't much in the way of academics on that day, just waiting for school to end and embark upon the festivities of the evening. There was a school carnival. Then when darkness came, a couple of hours of trick-or-treating. By the end of the evening we were all set for candy until at least Thanksgiving. We idled time trading and eating candy, throwing away apples and weird homemade goods, and sorting through the treasures in our goodie bags. It wasn't always candy or other edibles either. Sometimes there would be the strays coins or other unexpected items. Once I recall finding a decorative bar of soap in the bag. I kept that bar of soap for years and for all I know maybe after 40 some years I still have it somewhere. But Halloween was quite different back then.
I guess I was an adult when I first started hearing the scare stories about apples with razor blades or baked goods laced with LSD and the like. Maybe we were on the right track when we were throwing all that unpackaged stuff away. Although in my 20's the drug laced stuff sounded inviting. But the commercial bombardment was the really big change. Now Halloween generates the most money after Christmas and may be closing in to eventually surpass that benevolent holiday. Let's face it, Halloween is a self indulgent holiday. Sure we buy millions of dollars worth of candy to give away, but many people go to huge expense to show off how they decorate their houses and costume themselves. Halloween used to seem mainly for the kids. Now beaucoups dollars are laid out for adult festivities and haunted attractions that primarily are geared toward teens and young adults.
Halloween merchandise starts appearing in stores as early as July. Temporary stores, often on a gigantic scale, appear in vacated storefronts in August. Some Halloween stores even operate year round. Numerous online vendors can be found on the web and these too are year round. If you check out one of these Halloween stores, you may find lines out the door with crowd control in place and even cops controlling traffic. It's all true--I have seen it myself.
It's coming and this year it's on a Saturday. From a kid's point of view that's not so great in one way because they don't get the school activities, but on the other hand maybe they can stay out later. But as far as I'm concerned I'll be turning out my lights by 8:30. That is if I do Halloween at all. Remember I'm unemployed right now and have you seen the price of those bags of candy? I think I usually spend about $50 on goodies allowing for enough left over to keep me supplied with goodies for a few days.
So being on Saturday that means it's party central for many adults. Bars love it I'm sure. Any excuse to get out and drink and party. And party stores should do a booming business for the home parties. In the end I don't know how much it all matters. This is going to the first Halloween in many, many years I will be sitting back as an observer, but I won't go into that now. The point is this-- it's coming, it'll probably be big financially, and then it will be over. Time for diets and dentists.

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