I want to start this off by telling you that I know how to have fun. I love a good party, a drink, a laugh, I’ve even been known to dance at times. Oh yeah, I know how to let my hair down. But you know one thing I won’t be celebrating? Halloween.
I’m an atheist, so there’s no religious objection I can make. I’m not a vegetarian anymore, so I can’t object to the senseless slaughter of millions of pumpkins. I’m not a particularly traditional person – I welcome progress with open arms – so I’m not really objecting to it on the grounds that Halloween wasn’t really even a thing when I was a kid. Which it wasn’t. I have three memories of Halloween when I was a child:
- Watching E.T and wondering what on earth they were all doing draped in sheets.
- Attempting trick or treating at the age of 10 with a friend. Our trick was to terrify the strangers whose doors we knocked on with a small doll wrapped up in a bandage. Woooooooooooooh!
- Answering the door at the age of 13 to discover a slightly younger lad from school wearing a bin-bag and saying ‘trick or treat’. I gave him a shrivelled parsnip from the fridge. This may have been the moment my inner Halloween curmudgeon sparked to life.
I know what you’re thinking – I’m a fun-loving, meat-eating, progressive atheist – I should totally bloody LOVE Halloween. But the whole spider-wielding, tacky-costumed, Haribo-grabbing affair just leaves me feeling a bit meh.
Before I had children this really wasn’t a problem. On the night in question I would simply leave the hall and living room lights off, and hide in the kitchen for the evening. Maybe I’d even treat myself to a big old bag of sweets to munch on whilst humming to block the noise out of giggling children knocking on my door. Stand firm fellow curmudgeons; don’t feel guilty and head to the door to share – they’ll sod off eventually.
Nowadays, I have children of my own to disappoint – and not just one, two of them! And they are just old enough to know that Halloween means pumpkins and sweets and traipsing up and down the street where they live, in the drizzle, wrapped up in a bog roll Mummy costume. But this mummy really can’t be arsed.
So for now, we are dabbling in the shallows of Halloween. We are not yet (maybe ever) full-blooded enthusiasts but even I’m not such a curmudgeon that I’d deprive my children of joining in a little bit. So this year, I’m pretending that Halloween is something where people visit us and we marvel at their costumes and give them some sweets. And yes, we’ll slaughter a pumpkin and put a battery light in it (flames + kids = bad). But this offer is for a limited period only: come 7 o clock, the fun ends. The pumpkin comes in, the sweets ‘run out’ and the kids can go to bed.
And once they’re settled down for the night, I’ll remove the plastic axe from my head, switch off the front lights, grab a bag of sweets and retreat to the bedroom where I can’t hear the broken doorbell being pressed, or the sound of tiny, hopeful, sugar-filled fists pummelling my front door.
As Halloween Scrooge might say, Bah Haribo. Bah Haribo, one and all.
About Alison McGarragh-Murphy
Alison is the Editor of The Motherload®, and is also a radio producer and broadcast journalist, a mum of two and a wife of one. Since becoming a mother she has (mostly) gladly swapped a busy social life of gigs, pubs, art galleries and museums for dancing in the kitchen, drinking on the sofa, finger painting and hanging out at the park. She talks incessantly about not having slept for four and a half years.
Image credit: Alison McGarragh-Murphy