I think I finally figured it out. The reason I dislike - and not just a little - all those special events people make a point of marking throughout the year.
They put me together wrong at the baby factory. I guess someone somewhere didn't follow the instructions or skipped a step or dropped an Allen key into my spleen, but toujours est-il que.
It's Halloween. And I just want to go hide in a grave. My kids are of course excited. Like most normal people, they enjoy those special occasions. But I don't. I actively dislike them.
For years I forced myself to observe the big ones. You have a family, you do family things. Right?
Christmas dinner, Valentine hearts, Easter egg hunt, Thanksgiving turkey, Halloween candy, rinse and repeat. In misery.
I hated it. I stressed for weeks beforehand, and acutely resented all the effort and time I had to put into everything. And when the time came to enjoy those meals, I wouldn't eat them (who in their right mind likes turkey?!?) but instead watch the crowd make my weeks of stress and planning and prep disappear in 20 minutes or less.
Since I'm a terrible actor, my displeasure was not particularly well concealed. It was always obvious to everyone that I would rather be a long way away than at the table carving a dead bird or under the tree ripping ribbons apart. So not only was I making myself miserable, but I was depriving the normal people in my life of their merriment.
That's not a recipe for success, now is it.
At some point, a few years ago, a solution appeared. I did not have to do anything I hated doing so intensely. Husband unit, being a much more normal kind of person, would take over decorations and the admin related to getting the kids dressed up and ready to go, and my role would mostly be limited to tolerating decorations and generalized fuss and otherwise stay quietly out of the way.
So now, for Christmas, he takes the girls to his brother's house in Toronto for a normal Christmas. That gives me a few days of peace and quiet by myself, which I enjoy mightily. (No, I do not feel lonely by myself. The only times I do feel lonely is in the midst of a crowd. I did say I was put together wrong.) I agree to make a pumpkin dessert for Thanksgiving, and help with the kids' makeup on Halloween. That's about it.
I still hate it. I can't go trick-or-treating except with a beer in my hand and another one already post-gullet. So I try to get out of it. I stick a bowl of candy on the front porch and ignore the doorbell. Some kid wants to take all the candy at once? I don't care. (Usually they don't; people are well behaved in this neighbourhood and there's usually candy left over at the bottom of the bowl when 9 pm mercifully comes around.) But at least now I stress and resent a lot less.
If you enjoy these things, I wish you a good one. If you're like me (hi!), I say boo humbug to you, too.