On her last visit to the states, my dear friend Helen of Leeds (Leeds is a town in northern England, where The Who recorded their epic album Live At Leeds) commented on the absurdness of the whole concept of Halloween, which she insists is not celebrated in England. But then the Brits don’t celebrate the Fourth of July, either… go figure!
Adding to the absurdity, says Helen, is the presence of Halloween stores that seem to spring up in shopping centers, oftentimes months in advance of the annual holiday – well, actually, it’s not really a holiday, but you’d think so by the amount people spend. By the way, in England “holiday” equates to vacation, as in, “We’re going on holiday to France.”
Just how much is spent on Halloween? According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spend $5 billion, or about $60 per person, to celebrate Halloween. This puts it in sixth place, right behind Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza ($457 billion, or $800 per person), Valentine’s Day ($14 billion, or $116 per person), Mother’s Day ($13.8 billion, or $115 per person), Easter ($12.6 billion, or $110 per person) and Father’s Day ($9 billion, or $100 per person). Cheapskates, I deserve more than that!
Anyway, I’ve never spent anything approaching $60 to celebrate it. OK, so I’m a cheapskate, too. In fact, like Helen of Leeds, I don’t celebrate it at all.
Well, I used to, but in my family we never bought costumes; we always just made our own. And, as far as candy goes, I’ve probably never spent more than $25 on Halloween treats. And why should I? For the past 15 years or so, no one has crossed my threshold on All Hallows Eve – except for one year when the grandkids showed up.
I suppose it’s because I live on the fringes of humanity, in the middle of a forest. Or maybe it’s because kids are intimidated by the alligators dwelling within the moat surrounding the stately Motley Manor. Anyway, as usual, I plan to stock up on about $25 worth of candy on the off chance that some goblins brave the alligators and show up at my doorstep.
And I get good stuff, too. No candy corn…do people really eat that stuff? I’m talking Tootsie Rolls, Peppermint Patties, Snickers, Butterfingers and Hershey’s Dark Chocolate. “Mmmmm, chocolate” (Homer Simpson in the 1990 “Krusty Gets Busted” episode).
For all you little monsters and goblins that do intend to celebrate, be sure to wear a mask and, for Pete’s sake, don’t touch your face!
“I was working in the lab late one night when my eyes beheld an eerie sight. For my monster from his slab began to rise, and suddenly to my surprise… He did the mash, he did the monster mash. It was a graveyard smash. He did the mash, it caught on in a flash. He did the monster mash…” (“The Monster Mash” – Bobby Boris Pickett – 1964)
Keep it flyin’, Uncle Mott