Halloween: a time of hastily put together costumes, dollar store candy, and one of the biggest party nights of the year at Mt. A. What do all of these things have in common? No, it isn’t cheap candy or costumes inspired by 1990s Tree house of Horror episodes.
It is plain old consumerism.
The same thing that drives St. Patrick’s Day, and Valentine’s Day, and characters like the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. These are scourges of modern society, say many critics of consumer holidays. Critics often label these holidays as examples of the decay of modern society and the Western over-reliance on imported, cheaply made products.
But alas, the decay of modern Western society cannot be found in a Vietnamese made costume purchased at Wal-Mart. In fact, consumer holidays are not necessarily bad for our collective souls.
I say embrace consumerism come Oct. 31. The problem is not with consumerism itself but with how much stock we choose to place in material possessions. A few times a year it is fine to throw some money to the wind and purchase frivolous items that have little lasting value and are used only to celebrate an artificial holiday. What is not good, however, is allowing those attitudes toward consumerism that have a place on days like Halloween take over your life 365 days a year. Just about everything will do no harm as long as it is kept to moderation. Consumerist attitudes are no different.
Do not allow them to take over your life or govern your actions on a daily basis. No, you really don’t need the complete first season of True Blood, just because you saw it for ten bucks at Jean Coutu this past week. If you make an impulse buy like that every now and again, you’ll do little harm, but if you act like that on a regular basis, you will soon be extremely short on ten dollar bills. A few times a year though, like at Halloween, spending that extra ten dollars is not a horrible idea.
And besides, every time you buy inexpensive consumer goods somebody else draws some kind of benefit. The cashier at the Dollar Store picks up an extra shift during the Halloween rush, or a mom and pop store gets a boost with greeting cards and chocolates during the first two weeks of February.
Feel free to buy that extra bag of candy or that accessory for your costume this Halloween. When the holiday is done gone though, don’t let consumerism continue to be a large part of your life. Consumerism has a place, and Halloween is one of those places.