I am not a fan of Hallowe’en. Not at all. There are many reasons for this, but largely it is due to my inherent dislike of being scared. I just don’t get it. Why would anyone want to deliberately instil fear in themselves or in anyone else? Now this may well come down to the legacy of a terrifying experience watching ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ at 12 years old which resulted in many years of abject terror at night and left me with a need to jump the 2 metres from my bedroom door to my bed every night (in case anyone was under my bed. Although in retrospect, I fail to see why getting in to bed at all was ever going to leave me feeling safe however I had managed to get there!); a fear of sitting on the toilet (if you have seen the film, you will know why) and a general sense that this horror film lark was not in the least bit pleasurable or fun.
This dislike of all things horror has stayed with me into adulthood and, along with a refusal to watch anything remotely terrifying (including -you may have noticed from my last post – films such as Jurrasic Park, which apparently other people (my children included) seem to find totally terror-free), it has left me with an inherent dislike for all things Hallowe’en related.
As a parent, this leaves me in a dilemma as the celebration of Hallowe’en has grown in popularity, but I have steadfastly stuck to my guns and my children are aware that we just don’t do Hallowe’en in this family.
Here follows my helpful instruction manual for any non-hallowe’en loving individuals who may find themselves suddenly having to wing it and cobble together something approximating a socially acceptable attempt at Hallowe’en celebrations.
- Return from a Hallowe’en free day out at 6.30pm and find yourself in the scene from ET where the whole town goes out trick or treating: hordes of children, happy laughter and neighbours smiling in their doorways.
- Take about 3 minutes to crack in the face of such a neighbourly sight and agree with your children that yes, maybe this year we can do hallowe’en ‘a little bit’.
- Approach own house with now very excitable children and reluctantly agree with the comments of the observant youngest child that yes, your house does already look quite spooky on account of the overgrown foliage in the front garden that resembles dense, rotting undergrowth.
- Rush into the house with children who are now desperately concerned they may miss the boat. Scrabble around in the dressing up box to find the witches costumes purchased begrudgingly for a hallowe’en party last year.
- Note that it may be necessary to up-grade said costumes when nearly 7 year old daughter appears in a dress that looks about the right size for a 3 year old.
- Rush out into the street with your children to begin ‘trick or treating’. Check with children what this actually involves. Do you need to take anything? What are you supposed to say? Accept that TV has once again taught them everything they need to know and agree to just follow their lead.
- Realise you need to make your own house look more hallowe’en-like so dash out into the back garden to find the pumpkins the children made at their childminder’s last Friday.
- Discover pumpkin 1 has rotted into a sad heap and pumpkin 2 is following close behind. Grab pumpkin 2 feeling the damp squish of rotting pumpkin flesh dripping down your arm as you do so. Walk it through the house as fast as possible to avoid releasing too many of the fruit flies nesting in the mouldy interior. Dump sorry looking rotting pumpkin in the forecourt and promise children that this makes it particularly apt for hallowe’en given that rotting flesh is a frequent feature.
- Take kids up the road to begin trick or treating. Visit a few elaborately decorated houses and realise you need to up your game a bit as far as decoration is concerned. Rush back across the road – grab a tea light. Open pumpkin. Drop tea light into the murky depths attempting (but failing) not to put your hand near the grey, fluffy ball of fly-covered mould.
- Complete the trick or treating circuit of your road and confirm with the now very excitable mini-witches that this is the limit of their trick or treating adventure.
- Return to house and realise that the meagre supplies of chocolate you bought in for the odd potential trick or treater will never be sufficient to supply the hoardes of children that have descended on your road.
- Panic that any social gains made by taking your children up and down the road and smiling at the neighbours may be totally ruined if you then appear to be lacking in chocolate stocks yourselves. Sprint – literally (well actually literally a sprint for me, but probably more recognisably a jog to anyone else) – to the shop on the corner to resupply.
- Buy 3 bags of ‘trick or treat’ chocolate fingers (75p a bag. Seems cheap, but sure it will be fine). Get home. Empty chocs into a bowl (forget the elaborate hallowe’en bowls in evidence elsewhere – a soup bowl works just as well).
- Try a quick taster chocolate from the recently purchased stock (it is important to know what you are giving away). Gag in disgust and immediately spit out the hideous excuse for a piece of chocolate (75p a bag. Seemed cheap right?).
- Leave children in charge of chocolate distribution at the door. Instruct them to stand with the door open as many people appear to be passing, unaware that the mouldy pumpkin with an eeire glow is, in fact, an indicator that you are accepting trick or treaters.
- Listen whilst youngest child comes into the kitchen to report a boy who ‘took a handful of the chocolates instead of just 1’. Chortle wickedly knowing he will soon regret this decision (Karma my friends, karma).
- Realise that this event is going to go on far longer than you anticipated and resign yourself to the fact that your children will be continuing to cackle ‘Mmm-wa-ha-ha-ha!’ long past their accepted bedtime.
- Get children to bed, settle in front of the TV and become increasingly irritated by the not so little trick or treaters now knocking on the door every 5 minutes.
- Remember that you are giving them disgusting chocolate and feel slightly better.
- Get to 8.30pm, realise it is now over (phew) and ponder quite how to get rid of the rotting pumpkin corpses in the morning.
Et voila….perfect hallowe’en prep.
Remember to bookmark this ready for next year’s festivities folks. And if there is one over-riding message to learn from my experience, it is to consider getting a gardener if the default state of your forecourt is deemed completely hallowe’en ready!