“What are you going to be for Halloween?”
Growing up in America, the falling leaves meant one thing: it was Time For the Holidays. Halloween spearheaded the season, with costumes and candy, decisions on scary or cool, and parties spent giggling over apple bobbing and other games. Of course, we all knew as children this would be followed in the proceeding months by Thanksgiving and Christmas, but Halloween was special. Distinct.
And it always started with the same question around the lunch table. “What’re you going as for Halloween?”
No idea was stupid, because it didn’t occur to us as children that it could be. After all, for one night, we got to be whoever we wanted. A superhero, a ghost, a beautiful mermaid or a scary witch. We stepped away from our school clothes and Sunday best into another world where Being Different was the norm. To top it off, we got to see everyone else put on another mask and run rampant as we enjoyed our candy-filled bounties.
It seems like with all things, the cry of commercialism really tries to overshadow the event, but it wasn’t like that as a kid. Sure, some costumes were bought, but almost everyone had at least one piece that had to be made at home in order to complete the ensemble, from facepainting to a special accessory. For one night, we’d join our parents in going out After Dark, house to house, and telling them all about our adventures.
Small adventures for them, but much bigger when you’re looking up into the face of a scary witch offering eyeballs to touch.
On a holiday where the veil is meant to thin between the worlds, allowing all manner of ghoulies and beasties out into the night, we celebrated in our own way with a rekindling of family, friends, and touching base with our local world.
And given how often people rail about the lack of community, knowing your neighbors, and being a part of your local world, you’d think more people would realize that Halloween is an opportunity to do just that.
Halloween, like any other holiday, is what you make of it. Which is why I will be dressing up again, same as every year, and inviting others into my magical world for a single night of the strange, the tween—and yes, the candy.
M. A. Dunham was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She eventually left her snowy climate for the much warmer and stranger land of Australia. She lives with her family and cat overlords on the sunny coast, and spends much of her free time reading, daydreaming and baking.