The last time I celebrated Halloween I was seven. I dressed up as a witch, complete with warty nose, black hat, and a cackle that was good enough to garner me a few extra treats.
This was back in the 80’s. People still felt safe taking their kids through the neighborhood,which was flush with school age kids and parents going from house to house, knocking on doors and braving the yard of the favorite local haunted house. They were kids I went to school with and parents that we knew from birthday parties, picnics, after school hangouts, and the like. Nobody was thinking about poisonings or pedophiles luring kids or any of that nonsense. It was just a fun night to dress up a and play and come home with a plastic pumpkin full of treats.
My mom became a Christian. She sat me and my five year old sister down to tell us it was our last Halloween and why. It was an “evil” holiday and she and her family wouldn’t participate anymore. Since we already had costumes and had been told we would go that year, she’d let us go but after that it was an off limits holiday. We nodded and said “yes, ma’am” and probably didn’t think anything of it. We went out for Halloween, me as a witch and my little sister as a ghost, trick or treated our hearts out and went home contented.
Then Halloween came around again and we were some of the only kids that weren’t getting costumes and getting to go trick or treating. The church had a kids event that night where you could dress up like Bible character and bob for apples and whatnot but we only went maybe two or three years and then even that dried up as an alternative for me and my sister.
I remember being a bit bitter about this strictly enforced no Halloween policy after awhile. I was a kid who liked make believe and imagination. I was dying to dress up as different characters and pretend I really was a vampire or a zombie. Later when I got into acting in high school, I realized that for me costumes and play acting weren’t a once a year thing. I still wanted to do what it seemed like EVERYONE else was doing and be a flapper or Cleopatra or Morticia for one night a year and have it be totally okay.
Once we reached late high school and my mom’s religious fervor cooled for a moment, she relaxed her no Halloween policy; we could do what we wanted. I waffles about participating for a bit. Eventually, I decided to double down on the no Halloween policy for reasons I can’t even completely fathom at this point. (Who can penetrate the reasoning of teenagers? I couldn’t even when I was one.)
I went through most of my adulthood without getting back into it. Partly because I went through some religious episodes myself and partly because I never had any kids of my own to make holiday memories with.
Last year something changed. I really, really wanted to celebrate Halloween again. Maybe it was all the cosplay I was seeing become mainstream. And while I understand how completely separate those two worlds are, I can definitely see how cosplay had a hand in changing my mind about Halloween. I think I realized it might be a way for me to ease back into that state of imagination and wonder I had as a seven year old. That this formerly “taboo” holiday could be fun for me again.
To that end I’m picking back up where I left off. I’m going to be a witch again for Halloween this year. My office allows costumes so I’m going all out. I’ve got about half of the pieces together: a black, high neck dress, strappy, pointy toed shoes, a long black wig, black body paint, and black nail polish. I still need to sew the flocked brocade cape that I’m wearing over my dress and to make a creepy evil queenish crown and I’m set.
I don’t think Halloween is inherently evil. The modern day celebration is a day when people of every age get to let their inner child out to play. I can only think that’s a good thing. So I’m participating this year. Witchy poo, all the way!
And hey, my mom is helping me make my costume. And she said “I’m proud of you for doing it for yourself”. Isn’t that something?