I tried to get in the spirit. And then I turned back into a pumpkin.
My 5-year-old stood bouncing on the neighbour’s doorstep, his costume (a plastic bag with leg holes) flapping against his little chest. The doorbell was too high for him, so his older brother stepped out of the shadows and pressed it.
“Trick or treat!”
The elderly neighbour looked confused as she handed over a half-empty packet of Listerine breath strips. “Ag, liefling,” she said. “You look so nice, but what is it all about?”
I increasingly find myself asking the same question, as every year more and more children in my neighbourhood walk the streets in packs, ringing the doorbell and asking for sweet stuff. Why is that South African children would rather embrace someone else’s cultural holiday than, say, Freedom Day? My suspicions are that it is everything to do with carrying home bags of sweets and getting on a sugar high that lasts until Christmas.
I did attempt to get into the mood once, for the sake of my children. We went to a friend’s Halloween party, and I tried to get excited about fishing plastic spiders out of my punch and chewed reluctantly on the pumpkin pasties. But when the father of the house emerged dressed as Death and led the kids around the neighbourhood to ring doorbells and scale razor wire, I realised that this is not for me.
It’s not that I begrudge the kiddies the odd treat. It’s the forced jollity, the pretending to be American, and the sugar-induced wall-climbing I can – and must – do without.
This Halloween I plan to do things differently. Instead of dressing up, my children will tidy their cupboards. Instead of bags of sweets, they will eat pumpkin and spinach. Quiche.
And instead of ringing the neighbours’ doorbells, they will clear the leaves out of the gutter in front of the house.
This we will call Night of the Evil Mommy.
I believe it will catch on throughout the Western world and possibly Asia.What’s your view on Halloween? Innocent revelry, or an unsavoury physical manifestation of the colonialists’ plot to dominate the world?