I Hate Halloween (Well, Except the Movie)
Not all Halloween horror stories are the same.
They all don’t revolve around a group of teenagers spending the night at a broken-down campground near some obscure lake. Nor do they center on some babysitter just trying to look after a couple of kids.
And not all haunted houses sit at the end of the street abandoned, windows smashed and shutters falling off their hinges. They don’t have catchy names like the Old Johnson Place with legendary and equally creepy stories.
Most of all, the villains aren’t always monsters or demons who can only be done away with some special weapon or spell and don’t revolve around a single night.
My Halloween tale starts early, lasts for months, and stars villains who normally would bring no fear to anybody.
And each year it seems to begin earlier, last longer, and grow in intensity.
Let me start out by saying I don’t believe in ghosts, goblins, or demons, though back in my day I may have dated a few girls who would turn out to be devils – but that’s different and possibly more my fault.
I have never witnessed a spirit, and I believe most things that go bump in the night are easily explained, but I don’t go looking alone either. Why test fate?
Admittedly, I don’t really like horror movies, ghost stories, or Halloween decorations. I may not believe in such things, but why play with opening portals into the unknown?
The women I live with, my wife Kimberlee and youngest daughter Sarah, however, love the stuff. They love the decorations and movies and get into Halloween like two long-lost witches let out of their dungeons and wanting to play. For me, it is not a perfect match. They know this and enjoy their ability to torture me, which might be why they start so early.
Decorations are going up in the Gazzolo household – almost on a daily basis!
You see, the Halloween season at our house, which is typically a calm, simple abode that calls little attention to the world, is taken over by the holiday. These women can’t wait to get things started. This year the first decorations started magically appearing around the time the last of the fireworks went off on July 4.
We seem to go right from Uncle Sam and barbeques to Michael Myers and bubbling cauldrons – without missing a beat. My wife just loves this stuff, especially if somebody else in the neighborhood decides to decorate as well. Then it is on.
Christmas is worse, for the contest grows each year. I’m good with trees and lights, but it has grown to have include large balloon-like figures in our yard. It was all fine until a storm blew through last year and I had to be the one chasing a floating Santa through four yards in freezing, pouring rain.
That, however, is another story for another blog post. This one is about Halloween.
Now, when it comes to fear, I must admit I have some around the world of black magic. To me, Halloween decorations bring a sense of dread to a room, a ghoulish reminder that we don’t exactly know what else is out there. I’m uncomfortable in graveyards and still, to this day, refuse to join any of my kids to the tamest of haunted houses.
Thus, bringing such paraphernalia into my own home elicits near panic attacks. I’m like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, afraid to move.
And we have it all: the painting where the eyes follow you, the lighted chain of skeletons (a bone-chilling decoration if ever there was one), and witches and ghosts galore. They go up little by little and are moveable.
It’s like my wife plays her version of Elf on the Shelf with her band of small witches, moving them daily, or at least I hope she moves them daily. If not, I shudder to think that the witches are conspiring.
Of course, we get a few new items each year. This season the missus brought home a broom that moves on its own. A Roomba would have made more sense.
The dogs don’t seem too pleased about this hovering broom either, so at least I have a few allies in this fight. I have yet to see my wife or daughter try to fly on said broom, but it seems it’s just a matter of time.
We have decorations all around our house, starting out in the driveway. Some of the decorations are simple – a lit pumpkin in the window and the black light outside the front door – things that alone don’t raise much fear.
Inside the house, it’s a little different. There are decorations on the stairs, the walls, and the fireplace. Every empty spot must be filled with something. A string of witches and glow-in-the-dark ghouls only help set the stage for the main event – the movies that come out after dark.
Some of the traditional movies are included in their watch parties, but these two women search out some films that I have never heard of – all to try to spook me to my core. Let’s just say, they come close.
At first, I could only watch about 10 minutes of these scary flicks before leaving the comforts of my recliner, but I have gotten better. Still, most of the time, I find myself either looking through my fingers or yelling at the television.
After all these years, you would think the young babysitters of the world would know better than to drop the knife next to the monster after stabbing him just once. I mean, didn’t they see the original Halloween movie?
All this leads to the actual holiday when even the dog gets a costume. Poor guy seems about as interested as me in all this, but he soldiers on, making the best of it.
While the women welcome all the festivities with the usual candy and fun, I would prefer to turn the lights out, lock the door, and hide in the bedroom counting down the minutes until it is all over and November arrives to save me once again.
Then, almost as quickly and magically as they appear, all the ghosts and goblins, witches, and black cats are gone, replaced seamlessly by St. Nick, snowmen, and colored lights. And the Hallmark Channel takes over the television for the Countdown to Christmas.
Not sure which makes me cringe more, monsters slashing kids or two people falling in love while being stranded in a blizzard at some resort in Maine. Don’t they watch the Weather Channel? It tells you not to travel.
And whatever happened to Thanksgiving, I ask. Can’t we find a spot in the corner somewhere for a turkey or a pilgrim? The combination of food and football sounds like a holiday to me.
Well, maybe next year. For now, I’m just trying to keep calm as Halloween chaos surrounds me. Wish me luck!
Jim Gazzolo is a freelance sports multimedia journalist who resides in Lake Charles, La. He is married to Kimberlee, and they have four children and seven grandchildren. Jim is a fellow graduate of Truman State University (formerly Northeast Missouri State University).