A lot has changed since I was a kid about how we do October 31. Back then, we'd wait till dark, grab a pillowcase, and walk the streets until our bags were too heavy or, as we got older, stole a goodnight kiss from our date. Now the holiday is far more elaborate.
Costume shops open in early September with more décor for sale than treats, entire neighborhoods close the streets to traffic, and police patrols abort any rowdy behavior. Children of all ages dress up in the garb of their alter egos, collect candy, and go to haunted houses and parties. I don't get any trick-or-treaters at my house because they all go to the "cool" streets, where there are hundreds of others (most on a total sugar rush) to look at and be with. One such street is only a few blocks away from mine, but it's another world. I miss seeing children in costumes coming to my door but always leave a bowl of candy outside, just in case.
Back in the day, we seldom put as much work into our costumes as kids do now. My Superman outfit consisted of a bath towel as a cape and an awkward "S" drawn on an old pajama top worn over my mom's panty hose (don't go anywhere with that). Obviously I was not one of the cool kids, but I do remember having fun every year—and I think having fun is what it's all still about.
Most people still want to be their idols for one night. I'm waiting for the guy in a T-shirt that says, "Hi, I'm Simon Cowell. Give me some candy or I'll hurt your feelings." And there's nothing wrong with a little fantasy. We adults can use a bit of fantasy too, which may be why so many parents today have become more involved in Halloween: they want to play too!
Some people I know put in a ton of effort to make their haunted house the best on their block. Other people express their creativity with what they give out to trick-or-treaters. One family last year was making real cotton candy in their front yard (I suspect there were margaritas being made in the back).
At this time in our country, we need as much uplifting as we can get, so taking the opportunity to celebrate—or have fun on Halloween night—is emotionally healthy. I often counsel couples who are having issues to put them aside for the holiday (or the holidays in general) and either stay home and give out candy together or get dressed up and go out themselves. And of course, you can always do both. Hey, it's Halloween, let's play pretend and be happy for a few hours.
So this year, give yourself the treat of being Indiana Jones or Laura Croft, and don't trick yourself out of a good time because it's a "kids holiday." Go to a pumpkin patch, ride a Shetland pony, and have a great time.
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