Some years, the Halloween memes start in September. Other years, my social media feed is filled with “I can’t wait for Halloween season” stuff as early as mid-July.
I am, undeniably, a weirdo. That has always been true. I’m queer, I haven’t had a “normal” haircut in over a decade, and I just generally don’t fit in most places. The thing about weirdos is that they seem to really love Halloween. If you’re sort of nerdy, kind of crafty, and a bit of a social outcast, it seems like Halloween is the holiday for you. No less than three of my close friends throw a yearly “epic Halloween party” that they refer to as “an important tradition.” I’ve heard the phrase “Halloween is my Christmas” more times than I can count.
I mean no disrespect to the many grown-up people who love Halloween, I love people who love Halloween and want them to be happy! It’s just that, all of this excitement over the last day of October never made much sense to me. For the rest of the year, I felt like I had a special bond with my fellow weirdos. But year after year, when October rolled around, I suddenly felt like an outcast amongst outcasts.
I just didn’t like Halloween (or so I thought).
I hated the competitiveness of searching for the perfect cool hipster costume. There were amazingly intricate (and incredibly expensive) perfect fantasy costumes from Game of Thrones. There were obscure comic book costumes that only the most seasoned geeks would get. There were hilarious joke costumes, like the “sexy nurse” who was just wearing regular nurses’ scrubs. One friend told me that she spends at least 300 dollars on her Halloween costume, every single year. I couldn’t keep up.
Then there were the parties, which were always too much for my social anxiety to handle.
Don’t even talk to me about the horror movies and related horror content. I do not do well with blood and gore. I am un-ironically terrified of zombies, so no, I don’t want to come to your zombie walk or whatever. Attempting to participate in Halloween left me exhausted, feeling like a failure, and having weird zombie nightmares for weeks. I wondered vaguely what was wrong with me. Halloween is fun! I loved Halloween as a kid, so why couldn’t I get into it as an adult?
Well, it turns out I actually love Halloween, I just love little-kid Halloween. I have no patience whatsoever for the parties and the drinking and the over-the-top spookiness that grown-ups sometimes get into, but when it comes to trick-or-treating? I’m there. I mean, what’s not to love about candy, silly costumes, and hilarious little kids who get amazingly excited about this weird special day?
I first realized that I was into Halloween last year, when my kid was a little over a year old. We decided to go in a family costume, which is so delightfully cheesy I can’t even stand it, and so the wife, myself, and the toddler dressed up as Peter Pan, Wendy, and Tinkerbell. I had fun finding the perfect blue nightgown at the thrift store.
Then, much to my surprise, I started doing something else. Slowly, over the month of October, I started amassing Halloween decorations. One day my wife came home from work to find me cutting out dozens of felt leaves to hang in our living room window. It was like the lurking crafty mom in me was suddenly awakened.
On Halloween night itself, we took our cheerful child out to collect candy with his neighborhood buddies. Walking around with a gaggle of kids, listening to them chatter about all the chocolate they were going to eat later (if only they could get their moms to let them!) was an absolute blast. In one memorable moment, a three-year-old tripped over the tail of his costume and, when I asked if he was okay, brushed himself off and said “Don’t worry, me didn’t drop any candy.”
I mean, kids are the best.
This year is shaping up to be even more exciting. My kiddo is now two, and we were actually able to explain the holiday to him a bit and even talk to him about costume ideas. As a mother, there are few things as thrilling for me as watching my child decide what he wants, and go for it. He shot down all of my costume ideas, from dinosaur to lion (actually, he laughed at me for even suggesting such things), and then confidently announced that he will be a bunny.
Not just any bunny, the bunny in one of his favorite books, “Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket.”
As I plan out the specifics of how I’ll make such a costume, I find that I’m not annoyed in the slightest. The irony isn’t lost on me that the very thing that bugged me about adult costumes, the hyper-specific attention to detail, is totally thrilling when it comes to making a great costume for my kid. But I am who I am – a woman who’s way more motivated to make a cute and fun costume for her child than she ever was for herself.
As for me? I’ll be dressing up as a witch. Finally freed from the pressure to do something unique and clever year after year, I’m able to admit what I’ve always wanted out of Halloween. That, as it turns out, is to wear the same classic (and boring) costume year after year. My mom always wore the same costume and put up the same decorations, and the tradition was definitely a comfort to my childhood self. Now I’m forming my own Halloween traditions.
I guess I just needed a kid to inspire me.