It feels like Halloween is already over.
I know there are a few days left to the trick-or-treat night, but the supermarkets have already run out of stuff and moved onto Christmas. (For the record, it will be a cold day in hell before I buy a box of Celebrations in October.) I learned this the hard way when my daughter and I went Halloween decoration shopping last weekend. There had never much pressure to go spooky in October before now, but we’re in a new house now and our neighbours have raised the bar with skeleton hands coming up out of their lawn and a strawman that genuinely frightens me every time I see it.
Part of the fear is I know my daughter has seen this too, and she loves to decorate. She’s been at us to go get the spooky stuff for a few weeks, but we’re still in post-house-move mode and, to be honest, we’re after getting fierce lazy. (You’d need a break, in fairness.)
Anyway, my daughter and I have a thing now where we go to Midleton market on a Saturday morning, so last weekend I promised we’d head towards Cork city afterwards and try out the kind of shops that dedicate an aisle to Halloween gadgets.
We’re not just talking masks, fake blood and inflatable spiders here. She wanted at least one motion-activated ghoul that would scare the lunch out of you. She would have asked for more, but her brother isn’t comfortable with motion-activated monsters.
We had a lovely morning, traipsing around Midleton market, trying out cheese and holding hands. We were buzzing on the road up to Cork, looking forward to finding a real blood-freezer of a Halloween ghoul.
They didn’t have any. Most of the shops we visited had sold out of Halloween stuff weeks ago. The only thing left was that fake spider’s web you hang on a hedge. This wasn’t going to cut it, seeing as our neighbour’s place looked like it was going into competition with Disney World.
I then pulled the classic Dad gaff of trying to buy a new bin as I was in there, dragging her around the home cleaning area as she told me she wanted to go home in a sad but reasonable voice.
We headed home for lunch, because we were both hungry now and that never ends well. She was quiet in the car, which isn’t like her. And then she started to slump in the seat next to me. Now, I’m kind of wary of my daughter because I’ve seen lots of girls who can wind their Dad around the little finger. They can sense there’s something inside Dad that wants to keep his daughter well away from sadness.
I don’t think she was putting it on here. This was me when I was nine years old. My mother used to bring me shopping in Cork city on the odd Thursday afternoon – I spent a lot of time hiding among the dresses in some boutique on Oliver Plunkett Street. The deal was I’d get a Dinky car I liked if I didn’t complain. Some days, they didn’t have a Dinky car that I liked and nothing else would do.
I remember the searing sadness on the way home in the car. I know children are supposed to learn to live with disappointment, but sometimes you have to intervene.
We called into Midleton on the way home and scoured around Dealz and Mr Price. There were no motion-activated ghosts, but we got a bunch of stuff including vampire makeup and a really spooky portrait. She sat up straight on the way home after that. I told her we wouldn’t be doing that every day.