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Halloween Killed Christmas This Year

Photograph by Getty Images

At our house Halloween lasted a month between all the assorted parties, pumpkin patch visits, puppet shows, and other holiday-related hullabaloo. If you want to see something scary, try two kids coming down from a month-long sugar high. It’s horrible.

Halloween has taken over—anyone who wasn’t buried under a rock had to see that in the crazed amount of consumerism. It’s now up there with Easter (another holiday I’m starting to hate because of all the candy), and gaining on Christmas, for crying out loud.

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But that’s not why Halloween killed our Christmas this year. Or, more specifically, killed Santa Claus. See, in preparation for Halloween, we did a lot of costume talk. (Also, my girls love dress-up and wear costumes almost every day anyway—except for the toddler, who decided Halloween was the one day of the year to refuse to wear a costume). I didn’t want them to be freaked out by anything, so I emphasized it was all pretend, that inside every gory costume was a person like them, or maybe a bigger person like me.

It worked, and the only thing that fazed the 3-year-old about Halloween was carving jack-o'-lanterns (“Don’t cut my pumpkin, please,” she begged).

“It’s OK, it’s just a man in a costume.”

In fact, it worked so well that weeks later at a birthday party when a life-size Darth Vader arrived and all her pals hit the deck or ran outside crying, she calmly sized him up and announced to all, “It’s OK, it’s just a man in a costume.” Then she took a light saber and moved on to the bouncy house.

Her blasé reaction isn’t just reserved for Star Wars characters; she said the exact same thing about Santa yesterday. I had her with me in a huge craft store, looking for Thanksgiving decorations, which no longer exist. There were Christmas decorations everywhere and when she saw a popcorn tin with Santa’s visage on it she cried, with all the excitement you’d expect, “Look, mama, Santa!” Then, in the same elated tone declared, loud enough for all in our aisle to hear: “Santa isn’t real!”

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I almost fell over. We’d never had this discussion before, and I haven’t anticipated needing to have it for many years. “Why do you think Santa isn’t real?” I asked, feeling judgment from the folks staring at us, wondering what sort of a monster tells her 3-year-old that Santa is a load of crap.

“He’s wearing a costume,” she said. “So you know he’s just pretend.”

At least she isn’t scared of him anymore.

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