I’ve been a bumble bee, Dorothy, the Wicked Witch, a baseball player and this year a member of the Duck Dynasty crew.
When it comes to Halloween, I jump in with both cleats, or ruby slippers.
I’ve gotten so carried away with Halloween that my older daughter years ago wanted me to drop her off at school two blocks away.
“You cannot get out of the car dressed like THAT!” she said, critical of the oversized bumble bee in the driver’s seat.
She, on the other hand, was dressed as one half of a pair of dice, timing her arrival to coincide with her best friend, the other half. To enter school without the friend, well, that would just be awkward, too much to explain.
What is Halloween if it isn’t a tad bit awkward?
As adults, it’s a chance to be silly, to relive your childhood – or in my case, make up for my childhood.
Halloween in my house, at least during the prime Trick-or-Treat years, wasn’t silly. It was dark, quiet. It was spent hiding in the den, far away from the front door. Every light in the house was turned off.
If only we could have turned off the doorbell, which rang, and rang, and rang, for hours, even though not a single light was on.
Every ding-dong reminded me of the number of friends roaming the neighborhood in search of free candy – and that I was not included.
Halloween, for a stretch of about five years, wasn’t celebrated at all in my house.
My father felt, in a change of heart as swift as the seasons, that Halloween was an evil holiday. Halloween, he said, was sacrilegious.
There was no arguing the point, no references to All Hallows Eve and the subsequent All Saints Day. Halloween celebrated the undead, and gave ample opportunity for those who believed in witches and witchcraft to indoctrinate children.
I simply wanted a Snickers.
I cannot pinpoint when the change happened, but it did. I have home movies of me dressed as a princess, my brother a cowboy. My parents even got into the act one year and dressed, for a Halloween party at church, as each other. My father wore my mom’s bathrobe and shower cap; my mother wore my father’s work uniform, steel-toed shoes and a fake mustache.
They looked adorable. But I wouldn’t believe it, not today, if we didn’t have those home movies.
As I got older, old enough to babysit, I’d get paid to walk neighbors’ children from house to house, so the parents could stay behind to hand out candy. I helped a Cinderella and Spider-Man ring doorbells beyond their reach. I held hands with Casper and a Dalmatian as they safely crossed the street.
And I took them by my own house, so my parents could “ooh” and “aah” like wannabe grandparents.
Almost as soon as it started, it ended, this war on Halloween. Without sermon or soapbox, my parents embraced the holiday, incrementally at least. They handed out candy to children they knew, children who just happened to be dressed in costumes as innocuous as Fred Flintstone, not Freddy Krueger. They helped organize fall festivals at church, a wonderful alternative to those who want to celebrate the season but avoid the gore.
I’ve never dressed as a demon or goblin. My children prefer fun rather than ghoulish, the harvest rather than the haunted.
They Trick-or-Treat in their own neighborhood, or at the homes of family friends.
They don’t say “Boo.”
And we leave the light on.