I believe I read somewhere that, with the exception of Christmas, Americans spend more money on Halloween than on any other holiday.
I don’t think we’re spending all that money on candy.
One of my daughters was decorating last weekend. She was stretching white gauzy stuff in her trees to create spider webs. She had ghosts hanging from a tree. On her porch was a huge pumpkin, and hanging from the porch was a giant witch as well as a giant spider.
My other daughter and two granddaughters were busy painting pumpkins. Two were pink and had their names on them. The other three were red. On the red ones my daughter had laboriously hand- painted a white oval. Inside the oval (or what we used to call the helmet) was a Georgia G in black. She then tied ribbons around the stems of the pumpkins, appropriate colors for both the red and pink pumpkins.
Traditionally, people buy a large pumpkin and carve out a scary face and put a candle inside the pumpkin. Kits with various designs and special utensils can be purchased by the pumpkin-carving connoisseur. If you are really thrifty, you can use the pumpkin "meat" for a pie, or clean and roast the seeds. I bet not many of you are that thrifty.
You can buy Halloween lights, much like Christmas lights. I have seen Frankenstein lights, spider lights, orange and black lights, and ghost lights. Yard art for Halloween includes various blow-up characters, fake tombstones, flags and hanging witches, spiders and black cats. You can buy wreaths and other Halloween decorations for your doors. My sister has a 5-foot Dracula that sits in a chair on her front porch. I am mentioning only the milder decorations you can purchase.
Some are so macabre or bloody that I do not wish to mention them.
I no longer own, but have owned, Halloween earrings. (When I taught school, I tried to have earrings for all occasions to amuse my students.) I do own Halloween socks. You can buy Halloween bracelets, necklaces, shirts (including those that light up or glow in the dark) and sweaters.
I have a Halloween flag and two black iron jack-‘o-lanterns that I stick in the ground. That is the extent of my decorations.
I have not even gotten to the most essential Halloween element — the costume for trick-or-treating.
Like magic, stores that only sell costumes and decorations for the holiday appear. Catalogs of costumes are like the Sears catalog for children. They can leaf through and make their wish lists.
The costumes range from movie-oriented (basically any Disney character or princess you wish to be or characters from the "Star Wars" franchise) to cute fairy-tale characters to pretty tasteless.
I must be the Scrooge of Halloween (to mix my holidays). I don’t remember ever purchasing a costume for my children. We just threw something together. Princess Leia was a white sheet, a gold belt borrowed from my mother-in-law and some fancy fiddling with hair to get two large buns over each ear.
We also get into the spirit (no pun intended) at The Covington News. We usually have a pumpkin-carving contest, and one young man delights in scaring everyone with very large, scary characters that talk and move and are motion-activated.
Then we have a contest to see who can make the scariest food. Cookies, cakes and sandwiches can be manipulated into something scary. I even saw a recipe that uses leftover Halloween candy.
Who has leftover Halloween candy? If you are giving it out, you purchase the candy, eat it, and then go out and buy some more to have on hand for the trick-or-treaters.
If you are a parent and take your children house-to-house for the holiday fun, when you return home, you give those children strict instructions. They have to put the candy up and go to bed. They can have just so much candy tomorrow.
Then, when they are asleep, we parents eat the good stuff.
Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.