Halloween: Welcome to The Adams Family neighbourhood!
HALLOWEEN terrifies me.
A huge admission, I know, but before anyone chokes in disbelief on their breakfast cereal, let me add that miniature monsters and giggling ghouls don't actually frighten me.
Bring on the cackling, battery operated witches, the huge hairy spiders stuck to the ivy, and all those scooped out pumpkins, their cleverly carved faces illuminated in the dark night. No worries there.
What puts the spooks on me, so to speak, is the effort it takes to keep up with the neighbours.
For weeks now, houses on our road have decorated their windows with dozens of tiny paper pumpkins, black spiders hanging artfully on delicate threads, wisps of white web strewn across hedges and along garden walls.
Other people get the whole October theme so right.
Another artistic neighbour organises a pathway of storm lanterns up to her door, and winds Halloween-themed paper lanterns around trees and shrubs.
That other people get the whole end-of-October look so right, never fails to make me wonder - and fills me with self-doubt.
Not for them the ugly mishmash of paper skeletons, arms and legs re-taped year to year, the plastic pumpkins and cauldrons, broomsticks and tatty witches' cloaks and glow-in-the-dark candles with silly faces.
Which has to mean,
1. They all have far better taste than me: a distinct possibility. Or,
2. At some point, they threw away all the tat and upgraded their decorations.
Also highly plausible.
I blame the retailers. The kids are barely back to school at the end of August, when they go into Halloween overdrive, flogging everything from talking skeletons to Halloween wreaths, to cute costumes for babies.
In the US...every single person seems to dress up on October 31st
There are probably cute pet costumes too, but given that most four-legged family members have to be kept indoors, and often sedated during the fireworks season, I can't really see that idea catching on.
Anyone reading this column in the US, might be shaking their head in wonder. Although I've never been state-side during Halloween, I've seen enough TV. It delights and amazes me, that every single person seems to dress up on October 31st. And that there are so many parties!
When our kids were little, we caved one year and threw a Halloween party for friends and neighbours. All the children dressed up, and so did some of their parents, until they realised that they were making the toddlers hysterical.
The grownups behaved like people who couldn't believe they were enjoying adult company at 6.30 in the evening with their kids in tow! The kids ate more sugar in a few short hours than they'd probably eaten in a month. And the smallest ones quickly used up all their energy, then fell asleep.
A success, by most people's standards.
Former weeny witches heading out as s**y witches.
And vastly removed from the parties our children attend, once they hit their late teens. The costumes for this age group, particularly the girls, are eye-opening.
You haven't been terrified on October 31st until you've seen former weeny witches heading out for the night dressed as 's**y witch', or 's**y ghost girl' or 's**y devil' or...well, you get the idea.
Meanwhile, it might be time to update my rather sad Halloween decorations. I could try tasteful, low-key stuff. Artfully arranged in windows and um, hidden in my untidy front garden.
Plastic witch with those jellied eyeballs, anyone?
A very happy Halloween welcome from Dublin; thanks a million for dropping in today. Wherever you are, I hope you enjoy the 31st, whether or not you celebrate Halloween. And I'd love to hear from you.
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