Why must we hack at you with a big knife and scoop out your greasy guts? Why must we heave your heavy hide to our porch, stick a candle in your belly, and watch as you wrinkle and wither in a few short days, only to heave you off the porch and into the dumpster?
And why, oh Jack, must that be but the beginning of the ridiculously ragged running that all mothers do on this unholiest of holidays? Why, after carving you to pieces, must we:
- Elbow our way through the smelly crowd at Value Village, clawing and cussing as we race to get the last ninja costume on the rack? (And btw: I got it this year! I got it! Do you hear me, you psycho mom who tried to scare me out of it with your frizzy hair and wild eyes? It takes alot more than a loud voice and a big bust to intimidate me, lady.)
- Partake of WalMart’s foul offerings three times in two days: once for pumpkins, once for candy, and a final time for “bright red!” lipstick? (Megan.) An organized mother would have managed all three in one trip, but hey…read the blog title.
- Spend approximately sixty dollars–yes, sixty dollars–on Halloween candy? Because see, you have to pass it out at the church “Trunk-or-Treat” party and at home and your kids asked you if, for once, you could buy “the good kind” and let’s face it: you’re getting too old to be the house that hands out dumdums every year. The fresh skin and cute figure of your twenties allowed for subpar candy, but now that you’re old and ugly, people expect you to compensate.
- Fashion a halloween wreath with your eleven-year old daughter in an effort to bond with her through “crafting?” Then watch as she makes it pretty much by herself–with skills far superior to yours–while you ooh and ahh her on encouragingly. Then remember why you’d rather bond with your kids over nutella and Cupcake Wars.
And after all that, dear Jack-‘o, why do we have to:
- Partake of Walmart a fourth time, followed by Winco, to amass necessary ingredients for the homemade chili that, once entered into the church’s big cookoff, will prove to the world (ward) once and for all that yes, you are that kind of mom? (And as an aside: which collects a more frightening crowd on a Saturday night, Walmart or Winco? My sister and I have an ongoing debate.)
- Spend entire afternoon preparing said chili among chaos of costumes, candy, clutter and hyperkinetic kids? Yell at hyperkinetic kids to hurry up! with all the cheerfulness of the Grim Reaper, and think once again how that guy’s got it figured out. (Nobody talks back to the Grim Reaper.)
- Heave said jack-‘o-lanterns, said chili, extra decorations for “trunk or treat” and the freaking sixty dollars worth of candy into the back of the minivan? That poor car was pregnant, faithfuls. But at least I’m not.
- Spray goopy turquoise paint in daughter’s lovely honey-colored hair, per her request, only to douse yourself and your back lawn in same turquoise paint? (The towels you used for coverage didn’t work. They never work.)
- Transform eight year old boy into a creature of action (i.e., watch in horror as Ethan waves his fake sword near every crotch within a three-feet radius.)
- Spruce up your own hair and makeup so you look mass hot for the big night. You will not be dressing up for Halloween, ever again. The fresh skin and cute figure of your twenties allowed for a whimsical costume through which your natural beauty shone. But now that you are old and ugly, Standard (and heavy) Hair and Makeup is all you’ve got.
- Speed to church with kids, the eighty pounds of junk I just listed, and food in tow (bonus: no spills this year!)
- Arrive at church just in time to spend forty-five minutes in line for chili feed. Realize that everyone is eyeing your chili just as suspiciously as you are eyeing theirs. Our collective gaze wanders up and down the buffet table, all of us trying to act casual while secretly inspecting each crock pot, trying to surmise which one came from a clean kitchen. But alas, this method rarely works. When it comes to a church potluck, it’s you and your immune system against the world (ward.) (Warld?)
- Eat lukewarm mystery chili from a paper bowl while listening to two hundred peoples’ children run through the gym, yelling and screaming IN THE LOUDEST VOICES POSSIBLE. (No, really. I’ve never heard ANYTHING LOUDER.)
- Rush outside after dinner to set up Trunk or Treat; i.e., stand by van for an hour passing out the freaking sixty dollars worth of candy to all the teenagers who come through the line again and again and again. You are about to tell them to beat it–that they are too old to trick-or-treat, let alone act so childish and greedy. Then you realize that your own teen and tween have frequented each trunk in the parking lot more times than anyone else’s kids. This shuts you up.
- Clean up van, clean up chili, go home and clean up kids, refuse to clean up house, and go to bed with the exhausted foreboding that tomorrow is the actual day of Halloween, and you’ll be doing much of this all over again.
And on Halloween night, among the chaos of more costumes and candy and clutter and other-people’s-hyperkinetic-kids, you’ll ask the Great Jack-‘o-Lantern once again: why do we do it? It’s a meaningless commercial holiday that wastes time, money and energy. And when you hear the doorbell ring–again!–just as your dog throws up her hijacked candy on the freshly cleaned carpet (true story) and you think “next year, we’re boycotting this nonsense!” you’ll turn and see:
a ninja with mad skillz
of Thing One and Thing Two
a Twister Girl, with the spinner board as a hat.
And at the end of the night, when your kids are laughing excitedly as they trade candy on the living room floor, and the last trick-or-treater finally bounces off your front step, you will turn off the porch light and see
a lady Jack ‘o Lantern with a bow on her head, winking goodnight at you.
And you’ll think: Got it, Jackie.
That’s why we do it.