I may have mentioned that I live in Salem, city of the month-long Halloween celebration. But every celebration must culminate at some point, and Monday was that day. At 6:30 as I was walking around in my “mom” costume, baby strapped firmly to my front, the bands were beginning to play, and there were already thousands of people on the streets.
It’s easy to get up on a soapbox about several problems with Halloween. For starters two big ones. Waste generation; Halloween is second only to Christmas in this regard with it’s single serving candies and costumes. Feminism; plenty of scantily clad women, many college or high school age, next to their fully covered and often un-costumed male escorts.
However, when you are milling about with those thousand other people, it’s hard to keep a grin off your face at the sight of a man in an “Octopi Wall Street’ costume, and the generally playful attitude. Furthermore, as evidenced by the reaction to the street preacher with the megaphone reading about fornicators, it’s hard for anyone to take you seriously delivering sermons during festivities (no matter how serious).
Yet, now that the holiday is over, I would like to propose three things that should enhance rather than degrade their enjoyment.
First, in between holidays, let’s Remember and Rest. Look at the pictures you took, play with your acquired items, or eat them. Peruse other people’s facebook albums. Have everyone over again to remind them what fools they made of themselves. Send a thank you card to the hostess of the party you attended. Clean up your house, balance your budget, and sleep in for a few days. Under no circumstances rush out to buy Christmas gifts. I know, the merchandise is already in stores, and has been since early October. I also know that this is the way that most stores make the bulk of their money. But, this is not okay. It detracts from the rest that we need, as well as makes holidays everpresent, cheapening them with consumerism.
This is my second suggestion. Make Holidays Short. Get the gear out of stores until three or four weeks before the event. Don’t sell Halloween candy before the back to school stuff is put away. I haven’t seen a store without some holiday sale… well probably in my whole life. This subtly tells us that the normal state of our lives should be to party. Wrong.
I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t enjoy life. However, party state dictates that we live beyond our means constantly. Party state suggests that we stay up and forego sleep. Party state suggests that ritual and routine should be avoided. Party state suggests we should eat far too much and eschew fasting. Party state hates balance. This is sickly living, paying for today with tomorrow’s earnings.
Finally let’s Celebrate Creativity over Consumption. This is the type of living that champions costumes crafted from clothes you already have, and one or two pieces that you bought. It’s the type of hilarious outfit dreamed up by a friend of mine who dressed as her sister, borrowing the clothes from her secretly. At the party her sister came in, complaining that she couldn’t find her favorite sweatshirt, only to see it on the back of my friend. At Valentine’s day there are homemade cards, and at Christmas, gifts that involve time, not money. Not everything needs to be homemade, but neither should there be nothing that is.
All of these things should point toward the more important part of holidays, people. Rather that stuff, competition, and consumerism, relationships should be one of the focal points of all holidays.