(If you are the introverted, overly-sensitive, vaguely misanthropic type.)
Halloween is my favorite holiday. Here's why:
No mandatory emotions. As someone who frequently exclaims "ughhhh feelings" whenever a Hallmark commercial interrupts my Hulu, I don't like feeling forced to feel something just because it the calendar tells me I should. I start to get really stressed out around mid-November when it becomes apparent that I am the only human on earth not participating in some daily gratitude challenge.
Am I grateful for things? Absolutely. Is it nice and emotionally healthy to set aside some specific time to deliberately consider your blessings and privilege? Of course! I just don't like feeling obligated to do so on a timetable.
Let's not even talk about Christmas, a time you are expected to be most grateful for your family, during the very season they are most likely driving you nuts.Oh, you and your family spend the holidays sitting around a fire singing carols and rescuing homeless match-stick orphan children? That's adorable. Are you Whos? Down in Whoville? Members of my family have been known to engage in hours-long screaming matches on Why It Is Important to Be Christ-like During the Holidays followed by a very terse unwrapping of presents and a fun blame-game of Who Ruined Christmas the Most This Year. Oh family, I love you so much. But sometimes Holidays bring out the worst in us, and I blame Mandatory Emotions.
And then there's Jesus. Evidence that long before Pinterest, baby's birthday parties were over-the- top and anxiety inducing. (Side-note: Can you imagine the gifts the Christ-child would receive if folks had access to Pinterest? Burlap bunting to decorate the mange! Chalkboard paint wrapping paper! GLITTER. Instead of a star announcing the birth of the Savior, a heavily filtered Instagram photo, #hark#benotafraid#goodtidingsofgreatjoy)
If you are a Christian, there's a lot of Mandatory Emotions about Jesus at Christmastime. Are you putting the Christ back in Christmas? How's your excitement-about-presents-versus-excitement- about-eternal-salvation ratio looking? Basically the only feeling I'm capable of producing on command is anxiety, and I've spent many a Holiday Season worried that I wasn't celebrating the right way. I don't have any Christmas Miracle Epiphany stories or anything that would translate well into an LDS testimony meeting.
I also hate crowds at Temple Square, ugly sweater parties, and Elf on the &*%$damn shelf, so clearly I'm going to hell. But it will be warm there, and if that whole Jesus thing works out, less crowded.So I'm feeling surprisingly unanxious about that right now.
Valentines Day, Easter, (the Candy vs. Eternal Salvation excitement ratio is equally brutal,) Fourth of July, (FEEL PATRIOTIC RIGHT NOW, OKAY. WE ARE GOING TO LIGHT EXPLOSIVES TO HELP YOU FEEL PATRIOTIC. GOD BLESS AMERICA.) all of these Holidays encourage Mandatory Emotions and I'm too much of a broken robot to handle it.
Two days before Halloween I took Clara to a tiny pumpkin patch with some of our friends. We were the only group there, and the nice owner took us on a hay-ride to choose a toddler-sized pumpkin to take back home. We climbed on our hay-bale seats and waited for the tractor to start up and pull us through the field. When it did, Clara clapped and giggled with excitement. The wind blew our hair, and later we held hands as she ran through the kiddie corn maze.
On Halloween, Clara dressed up as "a pink butterfly dress with a crown" and she skipped up each street waving her "royal wand" and whispering "trick or treat" over and over.
At each house, I'd ring the doorbell, and Clara would turn to me, using her most serious voice, to reassure me about the expected outcome of my door-ringing: "I'm sure they're home, Mom. I'm sure." She'd wait with her hands folded in front of her, her eyes expectant and laser-focused on the door. She charmed every neighbor, and I about died with pride for my sweet little pink butterfly with a crown.
We were happy. The real kind of happiness that doesn't feel forced or mandatory, or followed by a chaser of guilt for not feeling the right kind of happy or grateful or patriotic or twitterpated.
Halloween is the only pure holiday.
There's a lesson in this story, somewhere. But...... ugh, feelings. Instead, I leave you with this.