Why I Spend Halloween in the Basement

Our marriage is a Halloween-free zone.We also avoid restaurants with themes, ever since the waiter at Renaissance Buffet plopped down on one knee, thumped his chest, and said, “My liege, might I suggest a hearty meat pie or a joint of our finest mutton roast?”

That put my husband off his feed. “I don’t like people in costumes touching my food,” he said. “They unnerve me.”

“Hmm?” I said, studying the menu. “What’s in the Borgia Burger?”

You might wonder how we raised two daughters with these types of phobias. We did okay until they hit preschool and learned from some loudmouth that other kids actually procured bags of goodies on Halloween. That happened to be the Halloween they both had chicken pox, so after much begging, I relented to conjuring up two princess costumes. I smeared white makeup on their faces to hide the red spots and pronounced them ghost princesses. I agreed to let them extort candy from one house.

When we returned, my oldest said with dreamy eyes, “That was so much fun. Next year, can we do two houses?”

And that was the end of my Halloween bliss until they got old enough to make their own costumes and preferred parties to walking the streets.

Really, I don’t think we need to teach our kids about extortion. There is enough of that in the world already between South American kidnappers and Somali pirates. Maybe, instead, we should turn the day upside down and have our kids give out treats instead of asking for them.

Being a chocolate lover, I could get into that. But wait, I’m not allowed to answer the door on Halloween. Ever since our daughters went to college, our tradition has been a simple one: we hide.

We order Chinese takeout, pull the shades, turn out the lights, and go to the basement with our moo goo gai pan. There we watch a romantic comedy, where no one is terrorized by little beings in costumes or overzealous waiters.

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Why I Spend Halloween in the Basement — 14 Comments

    • Gretchen, may you have a lovely evening. Avoid the fright movies. Maybe go for something like Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Although I recall Audrey and George did don Halloween masks in that one. Sigh. We cannot escape it. Good luck.

  1. I know that many people do not love Halloween and that’s completely their right. Still, I think calling trick or treating “extortion” is overly harsh. In St. Louis, the “trick” part of trick or treat is that the kids tell us a joke when they come to the door. I have no fear that the Spiderman and Princess at my door are going to destroy my house if I don’t give them candy, nor even really the teenagers who just bought a mask to get some candy. If someone is out for “tricks,” they are usually prowling around without thought of candy. Personally, I love costumes and I know the kids I see like to dress up and show off their finest. I also like that communities have a moment where we can open our doors to each other.

    Everyone has a right to be a Grinch, I just prefer that they keep it to themselves rather than damper the good spirits of others. Turning off the porch light is a perfectly acceptable option.

    • Kim, I’m glad that you enjoy Halloween. Celebrate any holiday (or regular day) that floats your boat. Then write about it, as I did. You’ll be happy to know that my daughters did not come away scarred by our anti-Halloween attitude. They are in their 30s now, and this year they will go to their parties as Clark Kent and Carmen Sandiego. Have a spooky one.

    • I try to make up for my curmudgeonly side on Halloween by going wild at Christmas (much to my husband’s despair). What can I say? I’m a sucker for fairy lights, anywhere, anytime.

  2. We hide out for Halloween, too–or, at least we used to. I. Do. Not. Heart. Halloween.

    Last Halloween–the first in this house (where you cans see from the front door all the way through to where our only TV is) the trick-or-treaters started about 6 pm, before it got dark and we got a few, for which I was completely unprepared. I ended up raiding the piggy bank and giving out quarters till dark, when we left the front lights out. No child complained about the money!

    This year, we got boxes of raisins for the early marauders–if that doesn’t cure them from coming to our house, I don’t know what will!

    • Oh, no, you’re one of those Raisin Ladies. I am with you. I. Do. Not. Heart. Halloween. Either. Why can’t everyone just go to parties in their own homes and leave the rest of us alone? How curmudgeonly is that?

  3. I hear that!! 😎 I used to not even come home from work on Halloween, but go right a theater, buy massive quantities of hotdogs and popcorn, and see a movie or two. Now, with the advent of NaNoWriMo, I sleep through the trick-or-treat hours so I can get up and start writing at midnight. My hubby is British, never *did* halloween as a kid, and is very nervous about small beings in costumes demanding candy. Plus, we like the candy ourselves! 😎

    • I agree. I don’t know how many bags of candy corn I have finished off. Good luck with NaNoWriMo. I have never tried it. Every year I say I will and then October turns into such a mess that November becomes the catch up month. May all spooky things leave you alone this year, unless you’re writing a thriller.

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