I love Halloween.
I love Halloween in ways most people don’t. I love the costumes. I love the candy. I love scaring the shit out of people. Mostly, I love the sense of community. Every year, the wife, kids and I host Halloween at our house. Tonight, beginning around, oh, 5:30, we’ll start trick o’ treating. When that’s done, we’ll return for pizza. Boxes and boxes of pizza. After that, I guide people through the haunted house I build (annually) in the basement.
To me, Halloween is the perfect merging of ideal holiday elements. Or, put this way: No religious obligations+no annoying second aunts+no forced conversation+unlimited candy+costumes+scaring people shitless=bliss.
October 31 is, without fail, a great day. But is it the greatest day? The greatest holiday? My rankings:
1. Halloween: Has to be. Just has to be.
2. Independence Day: A decade ago, this wouldn’t have cracked my Top 5. As a kid, I remember walking the mean streets of Mahopac, N.Y., seeking out fireworks, usually disappointed by a couple of piddling displays. Over the past six or seven years, this has changed in a huge way. Now, every July 4, we head over to a nearby park, situated along the Long Island Sound. We’re joined by, oh, 20-to-30 friends. Everyone brings food, and kids, and games, and mitts, and balls. We sit and chat and eat for four … five hours. When the fireworks come (they’re exceptional), it’s the icing on a delicious cake.
3. Thanksgiving: I’m a sucker for family coming together. I’m also a sucker for cranberry and stuffing. Blissful day—even though we sometimes have to slice it in half between my parents and the wife’s aunt. Otherwise, wonderful.
4. Christmas: I’m Jewish. I don’t celebrate Christmas. In fact, growing up on the mean streets of Mahopac, N.Y., as one of a handful of Jews, I loathed Christmas. The trees and the lights and the Santa visits taunted me. Yeah, we had Chanukah. But it felt thin and inconsequential. Meh.
Now, however, I love the lights. I love Santa. I love walking through New York City when the air is crisp and the music is playing and everyone seems oddly … happy. Also, I now sorta dig being the Jew. As my dad has long insisted, we can enjoy the season without lining up at Target come 12:01 am on Black Friday. We can laugh, and also laugh at.
5. Valentine’s Day: I know … I know—bullshit Hallmark holiday. No doubt. But this one has taken on new meaning with fatherhood. My daughter loves Valentines Day. My son loves Valentines Day. We sneak into their rooms late at night, string up pink streamers and paper hearts and such. Also, come February—when it’s 15 degrees and dark and bleak—Valentines Day is a brief break from doom.
6. New Year’s Eve: Mixed feelings. When I was a teen I twice went to Times Square with my friends. It was electric and awesome and dazzling (though once, while standing at a urinal, I dropped my notepad into a puddle of pee. That wasn’t so grand). Now, however, New Years also reminds me that I’m getting older and older and older. And that Dick Clark is dead.
198. Yom Kippur: It’s not cool for Jews to rip Yom—one of our holiest days. I don’t care. I hate it. I hate sitting in synagogue for hours. I hate the long hours, and the sense of guilt. Doesn’t mean it’s not important—it is. Just not my bag.