There’s something about Halloween that almost makes me wish I was a kid again. I remember when I was very young, and Halloween meant a trip to the local Woolworth’s to pick out my costume, back in the days when they came in a cardboard box with a clear cellophane top so you could see what you were getting. Later, I’d help carve the family pumpkin, and then we’d head out to trick our treat in the neighborhood. The best part was after trick or treating, when I’d come home and sort through my haul, eating as much candy as I could before my mom noticed what I was up to.
When I got a bit older, my friends and I would piece together our own costumes from whatever we could find around the house. None of us had fancy costumes, either store bought or hand made, but we didn’t care. My favorite was when I put a black cape over a white sheet, and went trick or treating as Dracula’s ghost. By then the chief attraction of the holiday wasn’t so much the candy as it was a fun night out with my friends, telling jokes and trying to scare each other as we walked down the dark streets toward the next house.
Later, when I had my own kids, I could revive a little bit of that Halloween excitement through them. I helped pick out or make their costumes (I wasn’t very good at sewing, but they didn’t seem to notice), enjoyed watching them in the school Halloween parade, helped with the class parties and took them trick or treating. But eventually my kids got old enough to trick or treat without me, and then stopped going altogether.
Now I am middle aged, and I think I have just outgrown Halloween. I still put real pumpkins on my porch and set out a couple of ceramic pumpkins in my living room, but I can’t be bothered to string orange lights, stretch fake spider webs across my bushes or place crime scene tape across the steps. And I certainly don’t want to turn my front yard into a fake cemetery or put zombie figures on my lawn. I don’t believe that Halloween decorations should ever be graphic enough to scare small children, the way the the barbecue pit with a bloody Santa Claus head on it I once saw on someone’s porch most certainly would.
I know there are lots of adults who still enjoy Halloween, and love the elaborate decorations and the Halloween parties that require costumes, and that’s fine. I’m just not one of them. My husband and I did go to several costume parties when we were newly married, and I thought they were fun, although my husband didn’t like dressing up. (One year he went as an Accountant, which he is, so that meant he didn’t have to wear a costume. And that was the only year he didn’t whine about having to go to a Halloween party.) But it’s been many years since I’ve dressed up on Halloween, and I honestly don’t miss it.
These days my Halloween celebration consists of carving a jack-o-lantern, maybe making a few pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies and handing out candy to the kids who ring our doorbell on Halloween night. It’s true I don’t get the same feelings of anticipation and excitement that Halloween used to bring, but that’s okay. I believe that Halloween is for the young, and I’m no longer young. And I know I’m lucky to have a lot of great memories from when I was.