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Monday, October 20, 2014

Halloween? No Thanks!

Of all the non-holidays we celebrate, my least favorite is Halloween. Oh I understand the attraction: dress-up and play-pretend were big in my childhood repertoire. On Halloween adults can dress up and pretend to be someone or something they’re not. That’s the beginning of what I dislike: I’ve known a few adults who pretend to be something they’re not in their daily “real life.” It isn’t pretty.

Nor are some of the costumes adults wear. Some can be attractive enough, perhaps too attractive. I live in a college town and I wonder sometimes—on the rare occasions when I dare to go out on Halloween night—how some young ladies don’t freeze to death, wandering the streets dressed in little snips of fabric that would barely tip a scale. The provocative nature of adult costumes is part of what bothers me. When they’re not dressing in costumes designed to provoke one interest, adults are often appearing in another. I detest those that slander good people with look-alike masks or make light of weighty matters. The fellow dressed as a Klansman makes me downright cranky.

Even worse are the ghouls. While some adult costumes are clever and draw my smile, others make me turn away in sheer disgust. What’s appealing about a “zombie” with its eye hanging from the socket? A vampire with blood dribbling off its chin? A walking corpse with an arm half-missing? If it were any other day of the year when we saw that level of blood and gore on the streets, we’d be calling 9-1-1 and starting triage. Why do we put up with it just because it’s October 31?

Mostly I’m troubled by the kids. From a child’s point of view, Halloween is fantastic: Get dressed up, then go out wandering the streets doing a see-and-be-seen among your friends, trying to outdo your buddies with the cleverness or attractiveness or ghoulishness of your costume. Then go home with a load of sugar, get pumped on it and spend the next month on a sugar high while you consume it all. What kid wouldn’t love that?

From the point of view of a mom and gramma, we’re taking our beautiful, perfect children, dressing them to appear mangled, provocative, or creepy, and sending them out to beg candy from strangers. This after we’ve spent 364 days telling them not to accept candy from strangers. Tell me how this makes sense.

Okay, so I’m growing older and arguably stodgier, but I’m ready to give up Halloween—just throw it away and pretend it never happened. Why not? Pretending is what it’s all about.

Susan Aylworth is the author of 13 published novels. Her lucky 13th, EASTWARD TO ZION, is available now. Her recent release, MAGGIE RISING: Adventures of a Part-Time Psychic, has just come out in paperback as well as e-book. Mother to seven, she is "gramma" to 23. She lives in northern California with Roger, her husband of 44 years, and the two spoiled cats they serve. She loves notes from readers. Write her at, or @SusanAylworth. You can also follow her on Pinterest and Instagram.