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Day by Day: There are good reasons why I hate Halloween

I’ve said it all before but it bears repeating. I hate Halloween. I always have.

That may surprise some of you who know my fondness for anything sweet but this holiday has just gotten out of hand -- it needs to be “snack sized” if you ask me.

First of all, I hate dressing up in costumes. I have enough trouble pulling myself together every day to look decent, let alone making an effort to look silly or stupid. It could have something to do with my childhood deep-seated resentment of those kids who had the great “store-bought” costumes like the Lone Ranger and somebody from Star Trek.

We didn’t have money for that kind of thing and it was up to the attic every October to try and put something together besides a hobo. I remember the time I came down in this rather billowy yellow muumuu type dress and I thought I would go as the Japanese singer that played every five minutes on the radio. I thought I could tie it like a kimono but then my mom said it was one of her maternity dresses and that was that.

I dressed like one of the Beatles one year but nobody knew which one. My brother rather rudely reminded me that there weren’t any “chubby” Beatles.

As the years went on, I put less and less effort into costumes. One year I took an old black dress and came as a nun. I actually had some guy at this party believing it until he spotted the slit up the side. I tried to tell him it was just what all the nuns were wearing that year but I was busted.

And there was the year I went as gymnast Cathy Rigby. It was in the early 1980s I think when she was hawking maxi-pads, a relatively new subject for commercials back then. It was a great costume. I just put on sweats and carried a box of them under my arm. Of course by the end of the night, they were all stuck to me and the other guests but it was comfortable.

My last and best costume was in 1984. It was a big party with lots of people I didn’t know. The host was big on mixing her groups of friends and we always had to wear name tags and that was my costume. I simply dressed normally and put the name “Cheryl Tiegs” on my name tag and walked in. Tiegs, for those of you who are too young or too old to remember who she was, was one of the first super models and she was very, very beautiful -- tall, blonde, blue-eyed -- not exactly my twin.

I mingled like mad and it was the most fun I’ve ever had in costume watching people look at the name tag, then at me and struggle with what to say. My favorite was a guy who asked if I knew who I was. I psycho-babbled him for a full 15 minutes before he stumbled off in search of a drink.

When the kids came I swore I’d do better by them but I didn’t. They knew the score. They made sure they waited until my friend JoAnn came for her Thursday afternoon glass of wine to bring up their costume ideas.

And predictably she took pity on them, brought over her “sewing chemine” as Cory called it and created some magic for them. Her favorite was the year Cory gave her few details except that he wanted to be an endangered species and as usual JoAnn delivered.

The candy is also an issue. We lived on a farm and neighbors were few and far between but usually worth the trip. Lorraine Nelson always had homemade caramel apples and Fern Secrest always did popcorn balls. Nobody worried about razor blades or pins. We would occasionally talk Mom into taking us into town where the houses were closer together and the loot was definitely in abundance. Stillwater was great for full size candy bars in those years and the best part was bringing it all home to count and sort and swap.

But then I grew up and had my own kids and learned how bad sugar is for them. It didn’t matter when it came to letting them trick or treat; it just meant I felt really guilty until the stuff was gone -- well guilty and mad since the chaos around our house took a big uptick in early November. I remember figuring out that they weren’t having trouble falling asleep because of daylight savings as much as it had to do with six pounds of sugar under their belts.

And remember the blizzard of 1991? We had a lot of kids in the neighborhood that year and I had laid in quite a supply of stuff only to be stuck with it when only the Wenzel kids from down the street showed up. The candy -- well let’s just say that I have 10 pounds I blame entirely on the weather.

These days, the neighborhood, like us, has gotten older. Last year we didn’t have one kid come to the door. Kevin was depressed and I admit I was surprised not to hear the doorbell once. But then maybe my bad vibe has seeped out and drifted down the driveway like so much dry ice fog.

But I better be prepared just in case. Could they make those Snickers any smaller???

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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