I have a lover’s quarrel with Halloween. There are things I like about it and things I don’t. Which, come to think of it, is also how I feel about myself and at least half the people I know.
(Note: The above statement does not apply to you. We may never have met, you and I, but if we had the pleasure, I’m sure I’d like everything about you.)
Here are a few things I like about Halloween:
1. I like candy. I’m not proud of it, but there it is. I like having an excuse to buy a monster-size sack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, presumably to hand out to trick-or-treaters, when I know perfectly well I’m going to eat half those cups myself. I’d eat them all if my husband didn’t hog the other half.
2. I like seeing the costumes people choose to wear when they can wear anything they choose. I like to see little people, like my grandkids, pretend to be big, and big people, like my husband, pretend to be little. It’s fun. And I like fun a lot.
3. I like having neighbors and friends and people I don’t know come knocking on my door with their adorable children, all happy and excited and not trying to sell me something. That doesn’t happen very often except at Halloween. I’ll even share my husband’s half of the Peanut Butter Cups with them.
Here are a few things I don’t like about Halloween:
1. I don’t like tricks. Except the ones I played on my brothers when I was too young to know better, and on my children, when I was old enough to have better sense, but couldn’t resist. Never mind what those tricks were. I don’t like the kind of tricks that hurt people or animals or property, or make somebody clean up a mess. If you’ve ever been egged, or toilet-papered or cherry-bombed, you know what I mean.
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2. I don’t like being scared. Life is scary enough without making it scarier. My older sister loved to scare people, especially me. When she was 12, she put a sheet over her head and tried to scare a neighbor boy, who in turn, tried to kill her with an axe. I saw the whole thing and pulled for the neighbor boy to catch her.
3. I don’t like having to come up with a costume. We all have our gifts, and costuming is not one of mine. No matter what I plan to wear, it’s never very clever, not to mention very comfortable. My best ever idea for a costume was one I made my brother wear when I was 10 and he was 6. I put a sheet over his head (possibly the same sheet my sister nearly got killed in) but didn’t tell him he was a ghost. Joe was totally blind. He didn’t know what a ghost looked like. We went trick-or-treating and when people said to him, “You’re a cute little ghost!,” he would shout, “I’m not a ghost, I’m a mattress!” It’s hard to beat a costume like that.
Every Halloween, I think of a story I heard years ago from a friend. She said she was hiding in her kitchen, pretending not to eavesdrop on her teenage daughter, Kim, who was talking with friends in the living room.
“I never know how to talk to boys,” confessed one of the girls. “I always say the wrong thing!”
Kim offered a solution. “Maybe you’re trying too hard,” she said. “Try to relax and just be yourself!”
Then, after a moment, while everyone thought about that girl being herself, Kim added this: “And if that doesn’t work for you, just be somebody else!”
Costumes don’t change who we are or how we talk to each other. Only we can do that. I like to be who I am: A wife, a mom, a nana, a friend. It works for me. But on Halloween, just for fun, I’ll be Nana Medusa with snakes on my head.
On Halloween and every day, we should always be ourselves and allow others to be who they are, as well. Maybe it will help us, together, as one, be the kind of people we’re meant to be.