Happy Halloween?

I have to admit I’ve never really understood the obsession with Halloween.  I love autumn; it’s my absolute favorite time of year, and fall “stuff” sucks me in each and every time it rolls around.  (One of the biggest reasons I’ll never make it as a true minimalist:  fall decor.)  I’m relieved when the temp starts to cool; I love the bite in the air each morning and bundling up in jackets as we head out the door to school.  I love the changing leaves; though for all the huge trees in our yard we really only have two pretty ones.  I love crunching through the fallen leaves as we walk out to get the paper, or the mail…in spite of the fact that our neighbors on either side keep fastidious lawns that manage to make ours look more than a little unkempt.  (I believe the word is “trashy.” lol)

What I don’t get is the gore.  The desire to “decorate” with corpses and zombies and skeletons…..and I’m always struck, each year, at how we as Americans wail about the cost of everything, and yet people will shell out their hard-earned dollars for things like inflatable spiders to sit in their front yard.

I don’t get it.

October is the time where I’m finally willing to start walking to and from school….and it’s also the month where I had to change the route we took when my kids were younger, because there’s a house on one street with zombies overtaking the front yard.  I don’t mean a few scary items; I mean the entire front yard is covered with creatures….it truly looks like a graveyard come to life.  They have to have over thirty creepies on their lawn, including a large Satan-like creature suspended above their front door.  Each year as it goes up I realize how grateful I am that our neighbors at our last house got into Christmas instead of Halloween.  (To their credit, the whole mob scene is taken down promptly on November 1st.  No lingering zombies hanging out for Thanksgiving dinner or anything.)

That’s the stuff I don’t get.

Time magazine states that this year, “Americans are expected to spend a record $8 billion on Halloween-related products and activities this year, up 17% from 2011.” (From “More Trick Than Treat,” October 29th issue).

$8 billion….

I don’t get it.

We got costumes for the kids; my daughter’s was actually her birthday present.  I bought not even $20 worth of candy, which might not sound like much, but it’s a ton; trust me.  I think we’re covered.  I’m calling it good.

Because there’s loads of other things I’d rather spend my money on.

 

 

What’s next?

It’s a strange feeling to look outside right now.  The grass is browning.  Some leaves are actually falling; there’s a carpet of brown leaves lying under the maple tree right outside our kitchen window.  If I let myself, I can almost pretend it’s fall, since this is essentially what our yard should look like in late September or early October.  But it’s not fall; it’s July.  Which makes the view that much more surreal.

I wish it was fall….day after day of 100+ degrees and drought is wearing thin.  I discovered advertisers are quite ready to grant my wish:  a catalog arrived in the mail recently with a “Christmas preview,” and I admit I looked through each and every page; not actually wanting to buy anything, just wanting to be reminded that it wouldn’t always be miserably hot; that fall and winter were right around the corner.

Stores and advertisers are always happy to help us move on, aren’t they?  They spin it as letting us “plan” and “prepare.”  My most recent example was trying to buy a lawn chair the day before the Fourth of July….but the lawn and garden section had already turned into the lawn and garden aisle, and employees were unloading school supplies in the empty space left behind.  It happened to me last Christmas, too:  finally on break, finally ready to find a craft for the kids to do as gifts, and aisle upon aisle of Christmas craziness had turned to just two; with no projects my children had any interest in doing.  I’ve tried to explain to my kids that stores don’t carry snow boots in January, or swimsuits in August; but it really does seem a little ridiculous, doesn’t it?

Right about the time we get settled in to enjoy, when we can finally really get into a season, advertisers take off:  on to the next big thing!  It’s always the next celebration or season we need to prepare for; it’s always what’s coming up, what’s approaching, what’s next, leaving us no time to enjoy where we are.  No room for contentment and gratefulness for the now.  No peacefulness in our present.

Our family has less than three weeks until school starts again.  We have swimming lessons and vacation days still in front of us.  I plan on enjoying–to the best of my “I hate heat” ability–these last few days of summer break.  I’m going to sit right in the middle of it, to make sure we do as many summer things as we possibly can, to savor (to use my kids’ favorite word) every last minute of it.  I know I will have to take a moment to acknowledge the future and buy school supplies….but outside of that shopping trip, I’m choosing to live in the present.  Even if it is presently 103 degrees.

Merry Christmas!

If ever there was a sign that Christmas is too excessive around here, I just had it.  A ridiculous sign.  A completely embarrassing sign.  A sign that I’m mortified to write about, but because I feel that way, I know I should.  So here we go…..

My children’s school is holding their book fair next week, and my son got a “sneak preview” at his library time yesterday.  After school he sat, poring over the flyer with all the titles listed, thinking about what he wanted to get.  At some point, he informed me that there was a really cool amusement park DS game.

I stopped what I was doing and stood there a moment.  “Yeah, but didn’t you get that for Christmas?”

He looked at me, eyes wide.  “No.”

“Are you sure?  I’m almost positive I bought that for you at the last book fair, as a Christmas gift.”

“No, Mom, I don’t have it.  Do we have it?” He was getting excited now.  “Because I don’t have it.”

That started an evening full of me second guessing myself (Am I losing my mind?  Did I change my mind, put it back, and not buy it?  Did I never get it out to wrap?) and my son hounding me to look for it.  I told him I would look first thing after they went to school the next day, because I’m not disassembling the laundry room closet in front of my kids.

So this morning, yes, there it was, laying down flat on the very top shelf, well out of my line of vision.  The stupid DS game I’d gotten him for Christmas and forgotten to give to him.

What bothers me in this instance is not my absent-mindedness, although that’s admittedly a little distressing.  It’s the idea that we had so much stuff to unwrap, so many gifts given and received, that I didn’t even notice it was missing.  The really unfortunate part, for me, is that I thought we’d done a better job this season of not being so excessive in our….um…. “celebration.”  I truly thought we’d scaled back, and had been much more reasonable this year.

A thought proven wrong by one small game.

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Yeah, I know, it was a week ago….but think back for a minute.  What did you do for Valentine’s Day?  How did you celebrate?  Are those two dozen roses starting to smell a little…off?  Did the chocolate look a lot better in the box, instead of on your hips?  Are the cute balloons deflated and the stuffed animals starting to get dusty?

The only reason I ask is because of a story a friend brought up.  I’ll let her tell it:

At Wal-Mart, on Valentine’s Day, the woman two in front of me in line was bemoaning the amount she was spending on “all this junk.” Her cart was piled high with cheesy stuffed animals, heart-shaped candy boxes, and other gimmicky wares. She said to the lady behind her in line, “You know, none of it means anything.”  I so wanted to say, “So why are you buying it?!  If it means nothing, then do something for someone that does mean something instead of wasting money on things people don’t need, that mean nothing to you or to them.

Maybe it’s time to reevaluate our “celebrating.”

I still remember our coffee maker dying right around one of those “romantic” days; it was Valentine’s Day or our anniversary, I don’t recall which.  I just remember when my husband asked me what I wanted, I said—in all seriousness—a new coffee pot.  He told me later how completely horrified his female coworkers were, that he would buy me a coffee pot on such a special day.  Guess what?  Years later, I am still using that coffee pot, often more than once a day.  One of the best gifts ever.

I don’t mean to say chuck it all, I don’t mean to say you shouldn’t be getting gifts for your loved ones and I definitely don’t mean to be some miserly witch trying to hammer all the fun out of any holiday.  I just mean to encourage everyone to take some time to think:  about what is truly important, about how you really want to celebrate, about what you want to take away from this “special day” a week (or a month or year) later.  I’m actually a big fan of flowers (though roses aren’t my favorites), and who’s not a big fan of chocolate?  Let’s just make sure that we choose to “do something for someone that does mean something instead of wasting money on things people don’t need, that mean nothing to you or to them.