Updated: 5 days ago
It was Halloween.
At 4:35 pm, as the sun melted through the silhouette mesh of the mesquite canopy and my surroundings cooled into the magic hour of both full shade and pristine visibility, it dawned on me that Trick-or-Treaters may be rapping on my door in a matter of hours. Maybe conscientious parents would even be taking their toddlers out now to avoid a late-bedtime meltdown.
The moment the thought formed, I was inside pulling the blinds and flicking off any lights that may instigate an invitation. A “We Don't Do Candy” sign seemed Scrooge-y, albeit communicative. I donned my sweatpants, lit all the candles [to the point of seance status] and hoped that the non-kid-friendliness of our neighborhood would be effectively magnetizing all the kiddos to nearby trunk-or-treats, parties, haunted houses and whatever the fuck else people did on holidays like Halloween.
My adult v. childhood holiday sensibilities couldn’t be more contrasting. I had a blast plotting my Halloween costume as a kid. I loved it when my brother helped me, because our get-ups were met with a little rush sparked by head-turns and confusion—something about being judged and misunderstood gave me a high. Like in third grade when he transformed me into a Punk Rocker. The night before the big-reveal parade at school, where everyone strutted their store-bought onesies and ghoulish face paint, my bro spent hours sectioning, braiding, then dying my hair green with a spray can. We’d picked out a fake nose ring at Hot Topic and I wore a pair of his hole-y jeans and a baggy Green Day t-shirt. It was full-on 90s grunge and boi did I feel like a badass. It was inappropriate, out-of-the-box and so fucking cool. I got major props from the little group of boys that comprised my BFF's (I myself being a tomboy that idolized my older bro, always jived with boys better than girls).
As a kid, holidays were fun, and my family really did it up. Thanksgiving was watching the Macy’s Day Parade in PJ’s with sleep-puffed eyelids. Sausage, eggs, bacon and pastries for breakfast—the real-deal kind from Great Buns bakery that Mom only bought on holidays (Danishes, black & whites, frosting-coated cinnamon bread). Dog show in the afternoon. Then a traditional feast (pumpkin pie hell-yeah) followed by coma-like lounging through an early movie before bedtime. For Christmas we poured sand into paper bags, lined our square lawn and formed a big cross in the middle, snuggled in tea lights and come nightfall, admired the path of luminarias that symbolized welcoming the way for Christ. It was impossible to sleep every Eve and we woke up painfully early the next morning, bundling up and scouring the yard, plucking the melted wax from the sand and cleaning up the display as fast as we could to get inside and start ripping open presents. There were parties at school every time you turned around, for everything, even holidays nobody celebrates as adults. Valentines written for every class member, holiday-specific confetti, sugar cookies cut in the shape of whatever we were celebrating, with lots of frosting and sprinkles—a shit ton of sugar in every form, at every party, that seemed to go down every other week. It wasn’t officially a holiday until I broke out in hives from bingeing on a bunch of crap I was allergic to. It was, BLISS.
Then I did the most cliche thing ever. I grew up. No longer was I cocooned in the social normality of school parties and family traditions. And I realized I didn’t give a fuck about holidays. They were a lot of work surrounding celebrations I felt no connection to. I would rather buy a plant than a sack of candy to give to children, a demographic I generally avoided. I didn’t see that as miserly because I gave in different ways—gift packages, just because, all throughout the year for my niece and nephew. Donations. Food drop-offs for people living on the streets. I didn’t like decorations or parties or eating crappy food around other people (that was a private practice meant for comfort and/or self-sabotage). I was just too fucking tired to do holidays. I preferred the company of my cat (The P.I.C. too), blankets piled high, swimming in a teal sweater I could pull off only due to its oversized absurdity and the fact that the 80s were in again. I liked mellow, one-on-one interactions and meandering through plant nurseries, being out in nature, tending my garden, watching the stripe-y caterpillars fattening up in prep for butterflyhood. I was good with a few mini pumpkins and tiny cinnamon brooms from Trader Joe’s for decorations. I didn’t want gifts at Christmas just because that’s when someone decided we should give each other gifts. I wanted nothing in my life to be dictated by societal norms. I didn’t even resist them, I just relaxed, and other than passing by a decked-out house or seeing common themes on Insta, holidays were as delightfully typical as any other day, without the hassle of expectation and overeating and buying more shit to have to cram in storage until next year.
It’s funny how growing into myself has caused customs to melt away. I am so prone to distraction that I do better with less. I get overwhelmed easily. What is considered a moderate amount of social interaction for many is too much for me. When I go to a farmer’s market or run a bunch of errands, I am flooded with relief when I come home to quiet. I’ve fashioned my surroundings to be peaceful, cozy, practical and calm. I light the candles, incense trailing a deliciously dancing string of smoke, kitty cat curled in a vintage blanket woven by my grandma. Moccasin slippers buttering my feet. Rubbing lavender essential oil inside my wrists and into my temples. It’s a real party when I put on the Amazon Music Mellow Folk station. A “glass of wine,” for me, is a bottle. Maybe that will change. I’m sure I will. Change. Just like everything does in life, as we come to know ourselves.
Of many preferences that may evolve as I do, I’m sure of this one, now: My holidays are best spent as any other days, quietly styling a creative life one kitty cat, cup a’ tea and blog post at a time.