By Jon Acuff
When did Halloween get so fancy? Did we vote on that? Was there some sort of meeting I missed? In general, I do my best to avoid attending meetings, so it’s possible that everyone got together and decided that Halloween would become some sort of fancy, expensive holiday without telling me.
When I was a kid, only the weird guy in our neighborhood “decorated” for Halloween. He put out some homemade gravestones and fake spider webs and played the inevitable “Monster Mash” over a cassette tape. We all smiled at his curious decorations, but inside, we thought he was kind of strange and probably smelled like pickles.
Now, though? Everyone is decorating for Halloween. There are inflatable pumpkins, giant spiders, zombies, and hay bales with witches cackling on them. There is literally a cornucopia of expensive ways you can trick out your yard for Halloween. In celebration of—I’m not even sure—free candy, maybe? Is that what we’re celebrating each October 31?
Speaking of candy, that got all fancy, too. When I was a kid, 50% of the houses on my street gave out “homemade candy.” And by “homemade candy,” I of course mean “apples.” People gave out apples and the most flavorless popcorn balls you can imagine. They were like eating yellow attic insulation. But that’s what we did. We didn’t get all fancy with our candy or put out bowls with little signs that said, “Please only take one piece per person.” (Which is adorable, by the way. There’s not a kid on the planet who only takes one piece in that situation. Their hands are like little cranes.)
And somewhere down the road, we started to bag the candy. Instead of just dropping a single pack of Milk Duds® in a bag, we actually put three different kinds of candy in a plastic bag and give them that. Some houses even give out full-size candy bars!
The bags are another issue. When I was young, I had to carry my candy in a plastic pumpkin that held approximately 14 pieces of candy. Now, kids carry pillowcases. You can fit 57 pounds of candy in there! Unbelievable.
The costumes have gotten crazy, too. For about five years running, my parents made me be a drifter or a hobo. Which basically meant they forgot to get me a legitimate costume. So, three hours before Halloween, they put me in some of my dad’s old clothes, rubbed some charcoal on my face, and gave me an old fedora to wear. Ghosts were also a popular option, since that costume only involved a sheet and a pair of scissors. Whole thing cost about a nickel. Now, though, kids get crazy, complicated Spider-Man outfits that actually shoot out web. Or Star Wars costumes with real working light sabers.
What happened to the clowns and the ghosts and the hoboes?
Where did it all go wrong?
How did we all get so fancy?
And most importantly, is Flag Day next? Will that be the next holiday that gets expensive and complicated and covered in Spider-Man webbing?
I’m not ready for that, and hopefully you aren’t either.
Stay sane this Halloween. Stay on budget. And stay away from popcorn balls. Those things are awful.