Since When Did Halloween Become the New Christmas?

Celebrating October 31st -- all month long.

The past two years, Halloween fell on a weekend so all the little ghouls got to start trick-or-treating at noon.

But this year, October 31st falls on a Monday and my kids are bummed that they have to go to school. Jack and Luke actually asked if they can stay home that day.

I had to explain that, no, Halloween is NOT a national holiday like Christmas or Labor Day, so people don’t get off of school or work for it.

Besides, if they stayed home, they would miss out on their school’s costume parade, which tops off a month-long string of events and celebrations. First, we have the Cub Scouts Halloween pack meeting, then the town’s Halloween Costume Contest, then two sessions of our school’s Harvest Dance, class parties and more costume changes than a Kardashian wedding. That’s not even mentioning the haunted hayrides, pumpkin picking, costume hunting, house decorating, Parks programs, FrightFest, TV specials and all the other hoopla that has turned Fall into one giant Halloween season.

Great Pumpkin! Since when did Halloween become the new Christmas anyway?

I knew I was in trouble when my friend told me she already ordered her kids’ costumes in July. By Labor Day, Target had their Halloween display up, right near the back-to-school gear. And, by mid-September, my neighbors already had pumpkins lining their stoops.

It’s enough to make a Mom feel downright witchy.

Don’t get me wrong. We are way into holidays in my house, and Halloween is a favorite. It’s just that after a long summer heavy on activity, I was hoping for a little breather.

The kids gave me until October 1st. Then we absolutely had to decorate. And no, it’s not enough to stick up a few scarecrows and call it a day. We hauled down more boxes of decorations from the attic then we do for Christmas, thanks in no small part to the half-price Halloween sale Brock Farms has every year starting on November 1st. Why oh why am I such a sucker for anything on clearance?

Kid you not, we spent an entire Saturday hanging Halloween wreaths, skeletons and spooky signs. Our porch is lined with scary monsters like the Grim Reaper and a mechanical witch that cackles when you walk past her.

We even string lights like we do in December. Thankfully, Luke is old enough for this job, so he was the one stuck testing bulbs and untangling wires. I had a bigger task to attend to: constructing our haunted graveyard.

And no, it’s not enough to stick a few store bought foam tombstones into the ground. We made authentic looking grave markers out of slabs of slate, spray-painted with the names of my favorite horror movie stars including Mike Myers (Halloween), Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th), Chucky, Carrie, and just for fun, one marked Lou Siffer.

Each one of these tombstones had to be wheelbarrowed down my alpine slide driveway to our designated gravesite, along with the two dozen bricks needed to prop them up. No sooner had I completed this grunt work then trouble erupted:  Luke got stung by a bee. Good thing he was done hanging the lights, because I immediately lost Halloween Helper Elf #1, who disappeared into the house for good. Five minutes later, Jack also got stung, and Elfs 2 and 3 were gone too. (Nina wasn’t sticking around to be bee sting #3).

No, that title went to me. An angry little winged thing the size of a fly stung my hand and it hurt pretty bad. But it was only an hour ‘til dark and I was going to finish that graveyard if it killed me. So I went in the house and put on long sleeves, gloves and a ski mask and got back to work, looking like one of the scary creatures “supposedly” buried under my lawn.

Then it started to rain.

As I hammered a nail into the tree behind my graveyard, I quickly realized where all the bees were coming from. Their nest was inside the tree trunk. Dozens of bees started swarming me. One even smacked into my face but I didn’t get stung. I moved quickly, erecting the tombstones while dodging the bees. It truly was a scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and I was Chevy Chase, except with more swearing.

See? I told you Halloween is becoming a lot like December 25th.

Good thing most of this Halloween madness is so much fun, or the whole season would be truly scary.

I’m psyched we don’t decorate for Thanksgiving.

Though my husband just told me he saw Christmas decorations at Home Depot.


Monmouth County Parks Program: Creatures of the Night!
Take a hayride through Huber Woods at night and come face-to-face with the nocturnal creatures who live there. This year's theme is the Olympics. Ride is not intended to be scary. For all ages, $8 pp.  Fri & Sat nights. Sessions remaining on Oct. 21, 22 and 28, 29. Registration a must.

joe October 16, 2011 at 12:57 PM
It only becomes so important if YOU make it become important.
Debbie Brew October 16, 2011 at 02:05 PM
Great story, great decorations....The Griswolds would be proud!!!
Marjorie Smith October 16, 2011 at 04:31 PM
Sounds like fun, 'cept for the bees. The big realistic spiders hanging on houses are so creepy...
Amy Byrnes October 16, 2011 at 08:33 PM
Michelle: I was laughing out loud: "More costume changes than a Kardashian wedding." It always seems in my house, too, that a lot of energy goes into the first few events and by the time they go out trick-or-treating, attention to detail goes out the window along with those once-critical accessories. Good-bye ninja sword. Take care tiara. Be a good dog, Toto. Happy Halloween!
Michelle Sassa October 19, 2011 at 05:42 PM
Amy, it's so true! By the time Oct. 31st gets here, the costumes are being held together by duct tape and safety pins!


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