I remember long-ago nights when, accompanied by my siblings and friends, I walked through the streets of our neighborhood, dressed in an outlandish fashion and carrying a plastic jack-o-lantern. There were usually a few parents along for the trip, but we didn’t fear the night, because surely our large contingent of monsters could handle any truly scary denizens of the dark.
I remember the excitement I felt as a child as I chose a new identity, a new persona I would become, if only for one night. Simply by putting on different clothes, a mask, a wig or a hat, my mind was free to imagine, and I took advantage of the situation to act, to pretend, to become someone new.
Once our baskets were full and we had paid homage to every last house in sight that displayed a lit front porch light, it was time to return home, where our bounty could be inspected before we secreted it away, and removed our costumes and wigs, ready to be ourselves again.
It’s October, and as I wander the aisles of my favorite stores, the displays of colorful seasonal merchandise take me back to those treasured memories of my childhood. I’m not talking about the bountiful Christmas decorations that are often exhibited side-by-side with the other stuff, but rather those items strictly designed especially for the period that begins with the start of autumn and that we are usually ready to store, or dispose of, by Thanksgiving at the latest.
Halloween has always been one of my favorite times of the year, from the neighborhood camaraderie generated by the descending hordes of costumed children seeking sugar, to the imaginative and eye-catching displays some of our neighbors create to entertain, and to scare.
Halloween is one of the few excuses we adults get when it is socially acceptable (aside from Comic-con or Renaissance Fairs) for children and children at heart of all ages to become someone else for a little while. One simply needs to don a mask, and live out a fantasy. Pick up a wand or sword, and become a new character. Put on a costume, and revisit childhood and the world of let’s pretend.
Who would you choose to be if you could become someone else, temporarily? Would you choose to be your favorite character from a book, movie or television show? Would you choose an archetypal character like a generic vampire or pirate? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to wander around or simply answer the door as a zombie, a werewolf, or a fairy godmother?
Let’s take this occasion to fantasize, to remember, to return to when life was filled with the joy of imagination. If you have the opportunity to attend a work or community event where you can dress up for a night, why not take advantage? Remember for a little while the joy that comes from such a freeing activity.
If you have children you can take door to door, or through the local mall for trick or treating, consider coordinating costumes with them. I have seen some really cute theme costumes in the past, where every member of a family became a character from The Wizard of Oz, or Star Wars, or Marvel.
Take pleasure in using your imagination. Even if you don’t go out, you always can dress up to hand out candy this year. You may find that you enjoy the thrill your guests get from seeing you as you answer the door. Whatever you choose to do this year, have fun. After all, that’s what Halloween is really all about.