Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Simplifying Halloween

Holidays have always been a spending a pitfall for me - Halloween is a big one (often worse than Christmas).  Growing up my Dad always had the "go big or go home" approach to the holidays.  On Halloween the entire family, including the dog, would have costumes (usually elaborate home made ones my mom laboured over), we would have multiple carved pumpkins for each person,and  a realistic graveyard transported to our front yard - it was completely over the top.... and I LOVED it!

I too adopted this approach to the holidays once I had my own to take care of.  I defined myself by the amount of effort and attention I put into celebrating these holidays.  At last count I had 7 large rubbermaid totes of Halloween decorations.  But this year, I'm not doing it.  We didn't decorate a single thing, not a single tote left our garage.  Halloween is a few days away and I still don't know what I'm wearing.  If it makes me happy to do it, then why aren't I?  It started out as a bit of an experiment, did this way of approaching celebrations really make me happy, or was it just habit to go overboard?

This year we decided to take the kids to a local Halloween party over the weekend, and we are largely going to skip trick-or-treating.  We'll take the kids to a few houses on Halloween, but just enough so that they can consume the small amount of candy in a few days, and then we'll be done.  We aren't decorating our house and we aren't handing out candy.  The not handing out candy decision wasn't an easy one because traditional wisdom would say that you have to give in order to receive, so isn't it wrong for my kids to collect candy if we're not giving it out?  I struggled with this for awhile and then thought of all the years I handed out candy before I had kids (or when my kids were too small for trick-or-treating), and all the years I will hand it out after my kids are too old.  Right now I think my focus needs to be on celebrating with my own family, which is why we're taking the focus away from the trick-or-treating aspect.  I'm also discouraged by hearing of how many people throw out a large amount of the candy they receive because it's "too much".  But if it's too much, then why collect it in the first place?  It seems like such a waste of money and resources to collect more than you intend to consume.  I think it's a good learning experience to say to kids, "Wow, that's a lot of candy!  I think that's enough, don't you?"  It's easy to become greedy when people are handing out something for free you enjoy, but at some point I think you have to learn to stop yourself.

I guess we will find out in a few days how our experiment in simplifying Halloween goes.  So far though, I'm loving it!  No decorations cluttering my house, no extra stuff to dust around, and nothing to put away at the end of the season.  The kids and I have been reading Halloween books and making crafts and thoroughly enjoying the season together.  We're planning on having a big garage sale in the spring to sell of all of the excess.  It feels good to find some space and enjoy the holidays rather than stress about them.

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