Sunday, September 5, 2010

Thinking About the Holidays

It's Labor Day weekend, which to me is the 'starting flag' holiday for the real, holiday triple play of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. For most people, especially families with young children, I think the three holidays occur in order of importance. Halloween is a childrens' holiday, but the ramp up is pretty one-note, and the actual holiday lasts a single night, with business as usual the next day. Thanksgiving is for the whole family and includes activities for grownups (food, sports), as well as stretching for more than one day (for many people at least). And Christmas is both a childrens' holiday and a religious marker. Santa and Jesus in one basket!

For myself, Halloween has always been the most fun of the three, and for a decade or so was unsurpassed using any criteria I chose to apply. Halloween looked down on the holidays to come, standing firm atop three legs.

The First Leg

For most of my childhood, and a fair portion of my adult life, Halloween's approach was a signal to the various television stations to begin airing more offbeat programming. Sci-fi movies saw an undeniable uptick, and in later years, some of the goofier horror movies joined the stable.

I've always enjoyed that sort of goofy storytelling, so it reinforced my anticipation of Halloween. However, in the intervening years, various botique channels such as the Sci-Fi network, took to showing these kinds of movies year round, and if that doesn't supply your fix, you can subscribe to Netflix, or visit any of a number of Internet venues. So the first leg of the tripod is shorter than it used to be.

I still make a point of 'observing' this aspect of Halloween, watching one or more cheesy horror or sci-fi movies in the run-up to the holiday.

The Second Leg

Can you say "Trick or Treat?" I knew that you could. I have enjoyed this part of the holiday both as a child on the receiving end, and as an adult on the giving end.

Add to this that for about a decade I was able to take my own daughter in tow and wander around the neighborhood extorting candy from strangers, and you may begin to understand my appreciation. I have very fond memories of my daughter learning the ritual, and selecting her costumes. Some years it was just the two of us, others we had one of her friends in our gang. Early on she was unclear on the concept, yelling "I want candy!" instead of "trick or treat."

Now Renee has outgrown this aspect of the holiday, and except for a few sporadic parties, she hasn't really replaced it with anything else (when she returns to formal parties with her friends, I won't be invited in any case). We hand out candy together, but the walk around the neighborhood doesn't happen any more. So the second leg of the tripod is also shorter...

The Third Leg

For many years, I attended meetings of an anime club, NOVA. This club met twice a month, and we gathered to watch anime and socialize. I met most of my friends there. And every year, NOVA had a Halloween party. This was like regular meetings in that there were showings of anime and socializing. But it included snacks, and members who were handy with needle and thread would show up in costumes. Often these were costumes they had worn to anime conventions, so it was sort of a mini-cosplay. Lots of fun.

Eventually, my friends and I realized that we were coming to meetings mainly to see each other, and were less interested in the club. So we stopped going to NOVA meetings, and began meeting at Tom's place, or Alan's. But I don't think we've generally acknowledged Halloween in October the way we generally acknowledge Christmas in December.

So this leg of the tripod is a tad shorter as well.

Still King

But even though all legs of the tripod are shorter, they still seem to be balanced, and Halloween hasn't been toppled from its top spot for me. It would be neat if October had a monthly gathering, and if some of the handier friends showed off a costume (Valeska... )

But either way, I'm still enjoying Halloween more than the other members of the holiday triple-play.

But What About...

Yes, New Year's Day is a winter holiday too. But let's face it. This holiday is just a checkered flag, letting us know that the fun is over and it's time to hunker down until the snow passes.

Anyway, whichever holiday tickles your fancy, happy holidays.

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