I have a personal October 31st tradition of hiding in a dark house praying the doorbell doesn’t ring.
Like many people, the holidays depress me. It’s not the decline in the weather, or the waning light and how it affects my S.A.D. It’s not that I’m single and live 3,000 miles from my family and sometimes end up spending holidays alone.
It’s the garbage.
The sheer landfill-bound waste of it all. Every year around this time, the plethora of fugly, cringe-inducing Halloween décor starts to hit the streets, kicking off the big ol’ wasteful consumer-America holiday season. Suddenly, there is future garbage everywhere in sight: globs of cotton hanging from the trees like big phony fog; tacky plastic pumpkins on doorsteps; cheap kids’ costumes in overpackaged boxes hanging off the edge of pharmacy shelves, begging you to buy them for one-time use.
The other day, I saw a couple of kids in Whole Foods wearing their Halloween costumes a good week ahead of time. I asked one of the boys—he looked to be six or seven— about his football player costume. He informed me that this was not his “real” costume. His “real” costume hadn’t arrived yet—it was a mail order Dearth Maul getup. Of course, he explained, he couldn’t wear that to his school Halloween party, because it was against the rules to wear a scary mask. So, he would be saving Dearth Maul for trick or treating, and had a third costume lined up for the school function. Three costumes. The kid is ripe for Burning Man.
I myself have never been a costume party girl.
Costume parties feel like a lot of pressure to me. It’s hard enough to be comfortable being myself—now you want me to be comfortable pretending to be someone else too? I’m not a performer, never have been. I always feel like a giant conspicuous asshole when I am forced to dress up, even if everyone else is dressed up too. I really can’t hang.
And if I’m going to be honest, I have to admit that Halloween kind of scares me. There’s an ominous vibe to the season that makes me want to hide out in my “safe place” (the library), curled up with a novel, ignoring the fact that the days are getting shorter and chillier and that the rowdy are on the prowl. I admit that I have a strong imagination that I don’t always use for good, but when Halloween looms on the horizon, I start to feel insecure. Plots of Stephen King horror movies play out in my subconscious, and I become extremely anxious every time I find myself in an everyday situation like waiting in a car (is there a rabid dog encircling?) or meet someone’s sister while she is watching tv (will she have a face?). I’m on edge, let’s put it that way.
Also, on a more practical note, when it comes to Halloween evening itself, handing out candy to children just feels kinda wrong. On the other hand, handing out wholesome all-natural treats seems radically lame and unpopular. I don’t want to be that adult. So, I abstain from participating in the great trick-or-treating tradition.
I admit that most of my disdain toward Halloween is more about personal taste and cowardice than enviro-spiritual conviction, but there you have it: the reasons why, once again, I’ll be spending Halloween lurking alone in a dark room, quietly watching tv in smug satisfaction.