When I became observant I gave up half of my favorite foods and TV and shopping on Saturday. I don’t miss those things one bit.
What I really miss about my old life is Halloween.
Like virtually every child in America, I grew up with an abiding love of Halloween. Each year I got to dress up in an awesome costume and get together with my friends and collect (and eat!) unreal amounts of candy! It was also the one day a year we’d go out and meet our neighbors–and they us. Even my parents got in on the fun: my dad would buy a giant bag of candy nobody else liked and cherish the leftovers for months afterwards. Halloween by us was pure goodness.
I became observant long before I met my husband, but I knew that when I married him a few things would have to be kicked up to the next level: dipping myself (and my pots!) in the mikveh, eating at strictly kosher restaurants. Fine, no problem.
But no Halloween? Sweet lord, why Halloween?
Yes, it’s got unabashedly pagan roots. Yes, they probably did massacre Jews on Halloween back in the day (as if they needed an excuse). Yes, its celebration of death is pretty much the opposite of Judaism. In truth, I get it–and I’m actually pretty pleased that neither of my son’s schools celebrated it. It’s got no place in a Jewish curriculum.
And yet, for better or for worse, in my heart of hearts I truly believe that every American child should be able to experience the joy of Halloween. I hate that my kids have to watch other children dress up and frolic in the streets while they sit on the sidelines. In my daydreams I imagine sneaking the kids out to join in the fun. But in real life, I respect my husband, and the kind of Jewish life we’ve built for our children, too much to even try.
I suppose I could fight for Halloween with more gusto. But with all the endless little negotiations it takes to build and maintain a happy marriage, it just feels ridiculous to go to the mat for a bucket of junk food and little playful paganism.
We do an amazing job of breathing fun (and candy!) into our Jewish life. The costumes and
on Purim, the gifts and chocolate gelt on Hanukkah. Even Shabbat is basically a sugar extravaganza. And that’s why my son accepts it when I say: “We don’t do that holiday. But we have other awesome holidays. I’ll bet they wish they could celebrate our holidays!”
But deep down I don’t believe it. Because Halloween will always be my favorite childhood celebration. And October 31st will always feel like something I’ve lost.