The above title of this piece is a phrase that we have been accustomed to hearing many times during our lives, as far as eating, drinking, exercise - though some think "don't overdo it" means "don't do it." I think, in many ways, we have failed to heed the advice of "don't overdo it" when it comes to various celebrations as well.
Many people are presently preparing for this year's celebration of Halloween, a holiday which has brought out the talented creativity of some, and the over-extravagance of many.
When I was a kid, - oh boy, here comes that never ending story - we created our own costumes for the most part. Frankenstein and Dracula were the monsters of our day. There wasn't as much blood, guts and gore as there seems to be today, especially among the girls. Hoboes were common. We just burned a cork, rubbed it all over our face and dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt carrying a bag of rags on a stick over our shoulder. There were store-bought costumes which cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 to $5, mostly cartoon characters like Fred Flintstone, Yogi Bear, and the like. Girls were princesses, or Snow White or Sleeping Beauty.
J. Paul Lombardo
Today, Halloween seems to have become the second largest holiday in terms of decorating homes, indoors and outdoors. Last year, on my street on Halloween night, a family constructed a maze complete with an inflatable haunted house. As part of the "effect," on Halloween night, someone sat in a chair, out of view, and started a chain saw as children approached their "haunted house." I think they overdid it.
How about children's birthday parties? Remember when we were kids - oh, no ... not the "when we were kids" story - and kids' birthday parties consisted of a few games like, "Pin the Tail on the Donkey," and "Clothespins in the Milk Bottle," or "Musical Chairs." There was cake and ice cream, and everyone got a surprise bag when they left containing a little toy or two, maybe some balloons, a whistle, and some candy. The party usually lasted a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon. It was a nice little celebration.
Today, it seems you have to rent a bowling alley, or a skating rink - roller or ice, if they are available to you - or a laser tag arena, or a paintball venue, and not only have to pay rental for the place, but you have to contract for the food to serve at the parties too. You probably can bring your own cake, but anything else is usually part of the contract for the place. It becomes a competition among parents too, seeing who can top whom when it comes to their kid's party. I think we've overdone it here too.
When we were kids - oh no, not again - Christmas was not what it is today. First of all, you didn't hear Christmas music ringing out until after Thanksgiving, and you didn't see Christmas decorations in the stores until then either. Today, the songs of Noel begin right after school resumes in September, and the decorations start popping up in stores around the same time.
What about what is spent on gifts today? I realize prices are higher, but back in our day - please make him stop with that - we usually received one major gift: maybe a radio, or a pair of walkie-talkies, a cowboy set, something like that, and maybe a board game, some stocking stuffers like maybe a slinky, some little toys, and some candy. Always, there were socks and underwear under the tree.
That was great; we were very happy. Today, kids are receiving laptop computers, video game systems and the unbelievably expensive games that go with them, iPads, iPods, and any other "I"s that are on the market today, and even flat screen TVs for their bedrooms. We definitely have overdone it at Christmas.
Some of these gifts are given as birthday presents too, thus creating severe disappointment for the child that "only" receives the newest model airplane or car (What? Model planes and cars aren't popular anymore?) or erector set, or the doll that does not walk, talk, have a cellphone, sass their parents or teachers, relieve themselves, or cry when they can't have something. (Again, overdone?)
We want to give our kids as much as we can - some giving more than they can - and I am guilty of some overdoing myself, and I think we (myself included) have done an injustice to our children by over-extravaganzizing (made up word ... better call Dr. Tony, Sally) maybe trying to take away any guilt we may be feeling about what we can afford or want to give our kids, or competing with little Billy Bubba's or Peggy Sue's parents trying to top the party and/or gifts they gave to them.
Regarding Halloween, and as far as the decorating, or over decorating goes, I guess that's up to each individual, but the house I spoke of earlier really could have toned it down a bit and especially lost the chain saw. A little less gore, a little more moderation, imagination and common sense when it comes to costumes. I can also live without the high school kids and adults who "trick-or-treat," and especially the adults with infants who are collecting for the baby. How many 6 month old children really eat those Snickers Bars or Milky Way Bars?
Anyway, the word from the Bullpen for today is ... moderation ... let's stop overdoing it. Happy Halloween.