Today is the greatest holiday ever! No, I don’t mean for World Savings Day, which, believe it or not, is a real holiday also observed on Oct. 31 — yay, a whole day devoted to “thrift”!
I’m talking about Halloween. Finally, that glow-in-the-dark skeleton I’ve left hanging on our door for the past five years once again becomes seasonally appropriate (the Christmas lights, not so much). And that’s to say nothing of all the cobwebs collecting in every corner and on every light fixture of every room. I certainly can’t dust them now. They’re decorations.
Of course, there are many other reasons to love All Hallow’s Eve: giant, inflatable Frankensteins programmed to undulate in time to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller;” fun-sized Snickers bars; sarcastic gravestones (“RIP Blockbuster Video,” “Here Lies World Book Encyclopedia”); the official kick-off of Egg Nog Season; “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown;” something — ANYTHING — different to focus on instead of politics, if only for one night, and even then, you’re sure to see plenty of reminders. For example, this year my daughter is going as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and only after deciding against Elizabeth Warren. By the way, my son’s costume: a cheeseburger. Together, they are Ruth Bader Ginsburger.
And who can resist all the fun Halloween activities, such as trick-or-treating, pleading with your kids to stop trick-or-treating after three punishing hours in sideways Juneau rain, carving jack-o’-lanterns, treating your own knife wounds with paper towels and duct tape, apple bobbing — lots of germs out there, be sure you’re up-to-date with your immunizations — and watching horror movies, although this year, if I really want to get scared, I’ll just flip on a little “Hannity.” Hey-oh!
Interestingly enough, many Halloween customs date back to the Medieval British Isles, most notably wearing costumes, going house-to-house asking for offerings and carving jack-o-lanterns, which were originally made from turnips. In fact, for hundreds of years, pumpkins had nothing to do with the holiday until colonists brought Halloween to North America. Good thing they made the switch. Who wants to drink “turnip-spice” anything?
Today, Halloween is as American as a five-pound sack of candy corn, observed in the United States by people of all social, cultural and religious backgrounds. Indeed, it’s long since grown into one of those secular holidays where you don’t get any days off work and you have to spend lots of money, like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or Tax Day. As a country, an estimated 64-65% of us will observe Halloween, and we’re projected to spend around $10 billion in Halloween-related retail — more than $3 billion on candy alone. That’s a lot of Sour Patch Kids.
And yet, according to the list of most commonly celebrated holidays in the United States, Halloween ranks seventh, between Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day. Seventh? That’s the best we can do? Seventh?! You’re telling me we can’t beat Father’s Day?! I’m a father, and I still think that stinks.
Seriously, there’s been lots of talk about cutbacks these days. I’d hate to see Halloween wind up on the chopping block, I really would. So please, I implore you, help bring the ratings up: celebrate Halloween 2019!
Now, I realize it’s last-minute, and you may not have a costume trunk at your disposal, or, like me, a collection of Star Wars masks, robes, blasters and light sabers steadily accrued over the years by late-night Amazon surfing. And I’m certainly not asking you to spend money, although an investment in a Premium Electronic Boba Fett Helmet is an investment in your future.
Here, then, are a few ideas for inexpensive last-minute Halloween costume ideas for Juneau:
- Tourist — throw on some inappropriate footwear and keep jumping out into traffic with no warning. Easy, peasy!
- William H. Seward, or sexy William H. Seward.
- Set your watch back an hour and go you can be the End of Daylight Savings Time, which comes up Sunday, Nov. 3. Finally, the clock on my car stereo will tell the correct time, again.
- Whistleblower. Sorry. I know I said no politics, but this costume is topical, humorous and extremely cheap. Bonus: after Halloween ends, use your whistle at home to call penalties on your kids.
- Wrap yourself in a blue tarp and bungie cords — go as your yard.
- Got a beard net and a pair of latex gloves? You’re Costco samples guy (or sexy Costco samples guy). Gloves, and no beard net — poof! — you’re a phlebotomist. Or a Subway sandwich artist.
- Alaska-based reality TV series extra. Chances are you’ve been one of these before, without even knowing.
Happy Halloween, Juneau. And don’t forget the reason for the season: cramming even more mass-produced confections down America’s already overstuffed treat hole.
• Geoff Kirsch is an award-winning Juneau-based writer and humorist. “Slack Tide” appears every second and fourth Sunday in Neighbors.