Frugal Musings in the Run Up to Christmas
When I was a kid in the UK during the 1960's Halloween was not really celebrated,but rather skipped over pretty quickly. We were brought up with the whispered stories from our Grand parents warning us not to go out after dark in case we got caught by the Witches on Broomsticks! Nevertheless one year we got to make a pumpkin head, though being a poor English summer the "head" was very small and less than impressive.
This quaint medieval atmosphere of Halloween has now been fully replaced by the blatant extortion of "Trick or Treat". The recent phenomena originated in the USA during the 1930's and the actual term *Trick or Treat" was first used publicly in 1939 by the writer Doris Hudson Moss. By 2005 the National Confectioners Association reported that 80% of US adults planned to give out sweets to the "Trick or Treaters". Today the total US revenue attributed to Trick or Treat sweets, costumes and other paraphernalia had spiraled to over $6 Billion!!
So how should we react when the local kids arrive at our door chanting "Trick or Treat"? I had it in mind to lie in wait hidden under a black plastic sheet with a hose pipe at the ready. On their arrival I could spring up and shout "Trick, Trick, Trick" and give them all a good soaking with the hose. Unfortunately this must remain a fantasy and this year, just like the last, we will keep our gates locked and ignore the incessant ringing of the front door bell.
What a pity that every tradition and celebration has been hijacked by commercialism. Halloween is just the warm up to Christmas where in 2011 the average US family spent around $650 on presents. When all the other costs are taken into account like the decorations, the extra food and the tree the total was in reality nearer to $1000. Great for the economy we hear the politicians chant like a distant echo from the "Tick or Treaters". Not so, since most of the spending will be on credit cards and so is money that Mr and Mrs Average are not really in a position to afford. Peer pressure, group speak and relentless advertising are drivers behind the spending spree.
Halloween can be enjoyed without appeasing the "trick or treaters", who increasingly demand money rather than sweets. Likewise Christmas can be celebrated quietly, at home and with your family. Join the frugal trend and start ignoring the shallow calls from faceless corporations to buy products you have never heard of and simply don't need. But hedge your bets and stay indoors at Halloween in case the Witches are around and don't forget to put out a glass of sherry and a mince pie on Christmas Eve for Rudolf!