By JESSICA PAINE
A weird thing happened to me this time last year. Despite the fact that I don’t have children, still fail to own shares in a costume shop and loathe all horror movies, I realised I was a little in love with Halloween. Actually, more like a lot.
This was a controversial discovery considering I have a father who views the word “American” as one of the worst kinds of put-downs (specially reserved for loud conversations, creative spelling choices and every time a movie has a happy, closed, completely unambiguous ending). And that’s the way I’ve been raised as well – to abhor the cultural colonisation of Australia by the United States. Despite that, because I’m of the Generation Y persuasion, I’m also 30 percent Global Citizen, 30 percent Cultural Cringer and 40 percent life lessons gained from American television.
But even that, the fact that I’m at constant risk of yelling “Call 9-1-1” in an emergency, am capable of “pleading the 5th”, a thing that I clearly don’t have the right to, and can name more American Presidents than Australian ones (because Australia has Presidents, right?) has nothing to do with my affection for October 31.
Here’s the thing. I’m a childless, single, urban-dwelling member of what I’m constantly assured is one of the most narcissistic demographic groups to have walked the earth. As a result of this I’ve never met a community that didn’t come with its own Facebook group. But while my social network may be vast, my knowledge of my neighbours is non-existent.
While I have friends and housemates, the reality is I live on a street of strangers. But every time a kid comes around to collect candy on Halloween I feel slightly less like the woman who’s obituary will read “Spinster Eaten By Cat Companions” (this is assuming I become a cat person, and insist on calling my cats ‘companions’).
We assume the kids in Jessica’s street are not dressed like this…. (Text continued after the gallery)
On Halloween I feel like I might be part of an actual community. Like one day I could even learn the names of the people in my block (and stop calling them things like ‘Bin Lady’ and ‘Sour Face’), perhaps ask them round for a barbeque, or apologetically borrow some flour.
Why can’t I do these things now?
Is it because I get nervous about introducing myself? Do I have a truly paralysing inability to retain people’s names? Am I concerned about invading their personal space? Could it all just be a bit too much of an effort?
The answer is all of the above, plus the rather sad fact that it’s just kind of creepy to show too much interest these days. If CSI (my father, somewhere: So American) has taught us anything, it’s to fear everyone.
I’m always tempted to join in the street-wide water fight amongst all the kids outside, or pull over in the rain and offer someone a lift from the station, or roll down a window and enthusiastically cheer a cyclist slowly summiting an impossibly steep hill. But I never do, because on the other side of that equation is a whole bunch of people that would freak the hell out about the creepy woman trying to ingratiate herself with their children, lure them into a car, or hurl abuse at random people.
So many holidays are about family, it’s nice to have one that’s about getting to meet everyone else. If nothing else, I think it’s good to teach kids that not all strangers will attack them, and that the world can even be a generous, candy-filled place of conversation.
All you have to do is knock on the door.
Jessica Paine is a television producer and freelance writer. She blogs here.
How you you feel about Halloween? Do you trick? Do you treat? And if you did, what would you dress as?
Jessica Simpson has dressed her baby, Maxwell, as a chicken
And if you’re seriously keen on Halloween, check out this amazing content from our sister site, iVillage:
There’s also these: which you want to bake - or just look at. If face painting is your thing, click here. You can guess the celebrity Halloween costume or find out how to get your pets interested in Halloween here. (Woof!)
If you are having photos taken for Halloween don’t use this as inspiration. And finally, if you’ve completely forgotten it’s Halloween then it’s not too late to get a costume for your kids – you can even make one out of stuff you have at home. Get inspired.