Dad’s World with Jonathan deBurca Butler

I’M first home in the afternoons. Bar the initial storm of demands and welcome home assaults, things are quite calm.

We go out in the garden and kick football or do a jigsaw after which I get the dinner ready while the pair of them watch some TV or wander around the house playing.

Quite often, after dinner has been served, fruit has been demolished and yogurts have disappeared, we will sit down together, the three of us, and have a post-din-bicky. 

Quite often, we also end up having a conversation of some sort and it’s usually started by Fionn (3).

The other day was no different.

“Daddy?” he piped up as he munched through his ginger nut. “Is it trick or treat tomorrow?”

I bit down on my biscuit with a confused frown.

“,” I replied.

“Is it next week?”

“No Fionn, it’s not for ages,” I said and hoped that that would be the end of it. It wasn’t.

“What are you going to dress up as?” he asked.

“I don’t know pet,” I replied, “It’s not for ages. I hadn’t really thought about it.”

There was a pause while he thought about this and, I suspected, waited for me to ask him the same question. I didn’t. But he offered an answer anyway.

“I’m going to dress up as a pumpkin again,” he said referring to the costume he wore last year, “and I think you should dress up as a giant and go ‘Raarrrrrrrrrr’ to everyone.” Luke (1) chimed in: “Raaarrrrrrrrrrr!”

It was a pleasant exchange and one of the less abstract ones of recent memory (believe me) but there was one thing about it that really bothered me.

The conversation took place before mid-September when we had it, Halloween was still a full seven weeks away.

Much has been written before about festivals and festivities that put both adults and children under economic and social pressure. 

As soon as the scary masks and fake blood are taken off the shelves, they will be replaced by tinsel and Santa hats triggering a two-month bombardment of ads and demands; demands that are aimed at parents who are desperate to please their children but simply can’t afford to get everything that the parents of Jimmy from creche can get. 

The cost of festivities is a hobby horse that has been flogged to death and I don’t want to go on about it here too much; mainly because my gripe is different.

There is no let up in the stuff that children (and indeed adults) are told to look forward to. There is always the next festival or ‘day’ to celebrate. 

It’s like some sort of cheap post-apocalyptic variety show. The minute Halloween is over it’s pushed off stage by Christmas which stays up there far too long only to be eventually outdone by New Year’s. 

There is a momentary pause before Valentine’s, Paddy’s Week (it’s not a day anymore), Mother’s day, Father’s Day, Easter and all the rest of them and around and round we go.

Now don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy most of these days for what they are and what they celebrate but I find it troublesome that there’s always something to look forward to for such prolonged periods of time. My boys are young and they still find the banality of the every day thrilling.

There are always new things to get excited about without having them wrapped up and repeatedly shoved in your face. They still get worked up by cats on walls, ice cream in parks and football on the green.

I don’t know who mentioned Halloween to Fionn, maybe he just saw the masks in a shop and figured it was coming soon. Either way he’s getting excited about it and I think it’s far too early. 

We tend to miss lots of stuff around us by always looking forward. Don’t believe the hype, just enjoy the moment.. if you’re let.


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