Halloween

Another Halloween come and gone.

This used to be a favorite holiday of mine; but for the second year in a row, instead of handing out candy to the few kids who braved the cold damp wind, I was huddled under a blanket in the TV room with the lights out.

I have been having such a difficult time dealing with people, conflict, meaninglessness, that I just couldn’t bear the thought of waiting and waiting for kids to trek down the cul de sac where most of the houses were dark. Even when they came onto the street, they don’t always even go to all the houses with lights on.

I opened the door one year and called out to a kid that we were giving candy and his reply was that we didn’t have enough decorations for him to make the journey from the curb to our door for free candy.

Seriously, the kid would not take 20 steps to get free candy.

It was disheartening and another half hour before I saw another trick or treater, a young girl, perhaps 10 in some sort of Disney fairy princess outfit.

I smiled at her brightly and said she was my last kid of the night, and I turned over the candy bowl, with 80 some odd chocolates and candies, into her bag – she’d have the best Halloween story the next school day.

But that was three years ago, and I just noticed this morning on our front windows, you can still see the clean areas of the windows where Halloween window clings had been applied. It must have been, because I didn’t decorate this or last year.

Last night, we made sure the front window drapes were pulled and all upstairs lights were off and we watched the middle two of the four Futurama movies while our golden retrievers cried and cuddled, distressed by the fireworks.

I hadn’t realized how distressing the fireworks were for me too – I was actually shaking with distress at the frequent bangs and booms – it sounded like everyone was firing at our house.

It hadn’t occurred to be that I would be distressed, after all it was Halloween, fireworks are expected. But, as someone who’s experiencing general anxiety disorder and panic attacks, it was just an onslaught of scary sounds, one barrage after another, until I was worse off than the dogs who don’t understand holidays and merrymaking.

I have become aware of a sensitivity to sound, especially violent sounds. You can’t tell what all the sounds are fireworks, cars backfiring or gun shots. People hopped up on sugar and the sense of lawlessness that Halloween brings – the impact on a person who already has problems in predicting behaviour of other people, it’s a wonder that I didn’t just take tranquillizers and call it a night by 6:30.

My world has become so small, the sphere of events and people that I can process and cope with, probably hasn’t been this small since I was a baby. As a toddler, I was always wandering off to find elderly people to entertain with a song and dance or a recreation of whatever Grover did that week on Sesame Street. Sesame Street came on the air the year I was born, so we go way back.

The last time I watched, Snuffalupagus was still Big Bird’s secret friend and Mr. Hooper was still alive. Bert and Ernie were still in the closet, as they are now, rumours of their being out have been quashed.

What a nightmare Halloween must be for those of us in the shut-in, agoraphobic and general anxiety community. Wait, can you be a community if it’s a collection of isolationists with trust issues?

Strangers coming to your door to extort threats through trickery, loud noises, costumes – how are you supposed to know what’s really under the mask or make up or what the actual intention of the disguised folk trawling the neighbourhood.

More than that, Halloween is just one of those holidays that is undergoing dramatic changes. People are opting for private or community (ie in the shopping mall) parties rather than door to door. As more single family homes are torn down for higher density buildings, there’s fewer and fewer doors to knock on to get candy.

Considering that in 2010, there were many cases of candy tampering across Canada and the US, I can’t blame parents for not want to risk exposing their children to the random crazies who generate random crazy.

Maybe Halloween should morph into an adult slutty/decadent holiday and separate the kid’s portion to the afternoon and private or open community center/shopping mall parties.

Plus, I think that shopping malls and merchants need to get behind and figure out a way to exploit other holidays of other religions – see what sort of blow up lawn ornaments, light strands and new flavours of cakes, cookie and sweet delights.

Why limit to just exploiting Christian holidays for cash? Surely there’s no end to how many blow up lawn ornaments, light strands, blinking LED figures and garlands…

19 thoughts on “Halloween

  1. Okay. So, I don’t know you, at all, really. I know only what you share on your wonderful and insightful blogs.

    But one thing really resonates for me in this post: that your world has become small. My world, too, was becoming smaller and smaller, and I was allowing my pain, fatigue and fears spiral my world into something I no longer wanted to be a part of.

    It was only after attending therapy and a group that I realized forcing my world to stop being small, in little baby steps, had to be up to me. Because I don’t want a small life. I want a big, open one. And I’m the only person who can change my world.

    I say this only because I know the feelings of fear and despair that come with an ever-shrinking world, and my heart hurts for people who go through it.

    Baby steps. Your words are beautiful, and your life should be too.

    • Thank you – you know exactly what it feels like – and that is very encouraging and helpful. Thank you.

      The scale of my life has become small and the helplessness and sense of being trapped.

      I said the other day, it’s not that people fall through the cracks in the social safety network, as much as falling by the wayside waiting for the social safety networks to kick in.

      You can’t wait for help, you have to reach out for it. Baby steps.

      • I’ve been there so many times, sometimes for years. It’s like being in solitary confinement, where people circulate around you but never see what’s really going on with you.

        Do keep reaching out. Take the small steps that force your world open again, even if it’s only finding a book store or coffee house you don’t mind going to alone once a week.

        • Thank you – Part of my brain is just reeling from what’s happened – I have always stood up against bullies and prevented people from being bullied – and at 43, I find myself huddled in my house after three years of being bullied and psychologically tortured in the workplace…..

          What’s appalling the most is all the anti-bullying policies and awareness, that filing complaints and triggering grievances, only resulted in me being traumatized and hounded out of the workplace, while the bullies continue on, unpunished and even validated by management.

          It’s frustrating to just keep collecting evidence, I have almost 12 inches of evidence, I want action – yet I am stuck, awaiting grievance decisions to come down against me, so I can move my complaint to another process, external to my employer, where I have the only hope of resolution – but I have to go through the proper channels of management denying my claims first.

          It’s stupid, the corrective processes have caused more damage than the original events.

  2. I have to admit to being an Englishman who was annoyed by the relatively recent importation of Trick and Treat to England. It reached its peak a couple of years ago when the visited realised they were being subjected to organised hustling. Since then chocolates and sweets have been given out to preserve financial solvency and since then its popularity amongst children has fallen dramatically. The same phenomenon has been observed with carol singers. Last night the kids stayed indoors.

      • It took bits of old traditions and made it a mass-market thing. As Americans do 🙂 I know the jack-o-lantern is from Ireland, used to be turnips. Pumpkins are much easier to carve, but our local museum of country life has a preserved carved turnip and that thing is creepy.

  3. Aw, I found this a rather sad post. We had kids refuse to come up to our house this year, despite massive decorating, because we are the only house in the cul de sac who had a light on. I don’t even like kids, but I want them to have that feeling of excitement I always had (and still do) on Halloween. We get the fireworks here, too, an English import I could do without. Luckily the dog wasn’t scared, and I could barely hear them over our spooky sound effects playing on the main stereo. Sorry that you’ve lost the joy of the day.

  4. We agree on some things.

    Religion: I’d say we are pretty much on the same page here.

    Lesbianism: Well, we’re both attracted to women, so that’s something, right?

    Elvis: I’m probably not going to devote a recurring blog topic to the man, but I have a couple of CDs that get airplay in my Honda

    But hating on Halloween? I can sit still for that! Some of my best memories are running around the neighborhood, kicking up leaves, getting candy, feeling the air become chill as the sun goes down. The lights and the decorations… good stuff. I have to admit, this fireworks thing is a twist. You do Halloween fireworks in Canada?

    I think you lost me when you mentioned trick or treating at the mall. I worked in a shopping mall for years, and I always felt like those kids were missing out on real Halloween memories. Plus, candy is expensive and store owners are cheap. We always gave out disgusting lollipops like the free ones at the bank. You want Snickers and Milky Way, you must go door to door.

    • I have many fond trick or treat memories – the last time I went out, I was in grade 12 and dressed up to take my cousins for their last outing.

      I made them learn halloween songs – xmas songs with hallow lyrics – Shivery Yells instead of silver bells – that sort. Anyway, they got double and triple treats and the homeowners gave me candy too and I didn’t have a bag with me.

      But, I think parents are right to be concerned about the door to door, tampered with candy – it’s better to organize block events.

  5. For me Halloween, which is traditionally called Samhain, represents a religious holiday. It is the Witches’ New Year and a time of reflection and honoring those who have passed. It is funny you mentioned fireworks. I don’t know if that is a tradition in other US cities but we do not have that here in my town.

    I am sorry that you have had this horrible experience. I hope that you are more at ease today.

    Love and light!

    • I think like other holidays, it’s not about the holiday, but about reflecting on how we individually have changed and I am just starting to realize what a bad place I have landed in, without the need of constant fending off, I’ve been able to start an inventory.

      Getting closer to being able to write about the nightmare that is my workplace.

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