It never fails to amaze me that children, who already have fairly easy access to sweets, can be so excited at the prospect of trick-or-treating for Halloween.
I do try to keep the volume of sweet stuff being poured into the children down, but they are not exactly deprived in that area. And neither are most Kiwi kids (according to an amateur survey of children walking down the street with all sorts of junk hanging out of their mouth).
I think more and more we are a society awash with sugar. My husband's workplace is constantly flooded with cake, sweets and goodies - a by-product of having lots of female colleagues. I occasionally drop into a publishing firm that has candy in large jars on display and lots of baking floating around (the office does publish a foodie magazine, I guess.) That doesn't explain why one day recently, everyone was encouraged to leave the office for five minutes and choose a free ice-cream from the Mr Whippy van parked right outside, though.
So yes, I get it - adults don't set the greatest of examples. And yet it seems to me any adult around here - even those that control their kids' diet with missionary-like zeal - are happy to sign up to Halloween and it's consequent sugar avalanche. Perhaps it is the dressing up? Surely it's not the begging of complete strangers for candy? Whatever the appeal, I suppose I am a killjoy for not to get it. I continue to have my children feverishly ask me every day "how many days till Halloween mum? How many days till Halloween mum?" And repeat. And repeat.
At least I'm not expected to haul my wary carcass around the outside of the house decorating it in Halloween style (although I'm sure that will eventually be the expectation, as Halloween marketing and merchandise seems to grow year on year). We are still a few decades behind American enthusiasm for the season, which figures as it is actually an American-born celebration.
An article in the New York Times this week detailed the so-called "hedge-fund Halloween" increasingly found in places like the swankier districts of New York; similar to our Franklin Road light display at Christmas time, only about 50 times grander. As Ginia Bellfante writes:
"For several years now, Marc Lasry, the co-founder of Avenue Capital, has decorated his mansion on East 74th Street with bloodied bodies hanging from the balcony, skeleton heads, a giant inflatable ghost, swinging bats and a life-size, clothed skeleton affixed to a tree on the sidewalk. One afternoon last week, tourists and children gathered to take pictures of a dancing skeleton beside the front door. It was singing Super Freak."
Far, far too much work for me, I'm afraid. I am, as I say, glad that that at the moment we only have a cheap plastic pumpkin and skull (filled with candy, naturally), a few outfits, a 'swag bag' and two hyper-excitable children, and that is the extent of our Halloween madness. I am hoping the actual day, which falls during the week, might pass without comment if I don't mention it (although I think the kids are dressing up for it at school, unfortunately). For goodness sake, let's hope it passes without incident and we move seamless onto the Christmas furore, which seems to kick into high gear oh, around November 1?
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