Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Real Reason Why Halloween Is The Best Holiday

Halloween has gone through many changes since I was a kid.  Each year, we'd go to K-Mart and pick out a costume that came in a box with a see-through cellophane cover that showed the mask inside.  Mostly, the masks were of characters from TV -- Bugs Bunny, Huckleberry Hound, Cinderella.  Also inside the box was a long, sheet-like costume made of silky polyester that you wore over your clothes.  If you didn't wear a costume that came from a box, it was assumed your parents couldn't afford one.  In that case, if you were a girl, you'd put on a dress, some of your mom's gaudy jewelry, and you'd go as a gypsy.  If you were a boy, you'd wear some ripped clothes and smear black make-up on your face and go as a bum. 

These days, it's the opposite.  Homemade costumes are expected, and they are often very elaborate.  If you wear a store-bought costume today, it means you didn't go through the effort to buy the material, sew it yourself, and then shop for all the accessories that go with your costume, eventually  becoming both time-consuming and pricey!

But the biggest change of all that has happened to Halloween is not the costumes but the fact that somewhere along the way adults have claimed the holiday for themselves!  I spent my first few years of adulthood not celebrating Halloween at all until one year, a friend asked me what I was going to be  for Halloween! "Be? I don't go Trick-or-Treating anymore," I answered.  "No, not for Trick-or-Treating, which party are you going to and what are you going to dress up as?" Suddenly, there was this pressure to find a costume again!

My friend Lauren and I did dress up for a college Halloween party one year.  She was a movie star and I was punk opera diva Nina Hagen.  While Lauren did our make-up, she told me that Halloween was actually her favorite holiday because it was the only holiday where she could just go out and have fun and not miss her mom.  Lauren and I had the common bond of losing a parent as a teenager, and it was true that every other holiday consisted of family gatherings and dinners, and every other holiday was tainted with the sadness of us being aware of our missing family member: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter are all geared towards eating and gathering with family but no one has ever had a big Halloween dinner for their family (not yet anyway!).  After college, Lauren and I began the tradition of sending each other Halloween cards every year with only the two of us knowing the special reason behind it.  This is why Halloween is the best holiday. 

Lauren and I have not sent each other Halloween cards for the past several years because, just like Halloween, our lives are constantly evolving.  This year, instead, I'll be sure to send her a special "Happy Halloween" E-Mail or a Spooky Facebook Message!


  1. Nice post, as usual. I like the tradition you started with Lauren, and the reason behind it. It must have comforted you both to send and receive the cards every year. And maybe you'll start the tradition again in cyberspace!

  2. Thanks, Bill! It did comfort me to know that once a year, I'd receive a card from Lauren on the day that we called "Our Special Holiday!" I'm going to get the tradition going again in Cyberspace, definitely!