“I thought Halloween was just for children,” my 88 year old mother remarked in a tone of disbelief (and some disdain) when I said I was going to a Halloween party. (Clearly, my mom is not a fan of the marvelously entertaining Halloween Parade in the Big Apple which is mostly all adults, and also includes pets.)  While dressing up in costumes and collecting candy door to door  http://uslanka.net/admin/controller/extension/extension/ is mostly a children’s affair, lots of adults end up participating in Halloween whether they like it or not. Parents are the ones who make or buy costumes and candy, accompany their young kids door to door, and hand out Tootsie Pops, Twizzlers, Snickers, Milky Ways etc. when the doorbell rings.  Most—but not all—adults enjoy seeing cute children and teenagers in costume and don’t mind doling out candy.  And Halloween is a GREAT excuse for parents to eat some of their favorite forbidden sweets too. Why NOT give a Halloween Party if you’re in your 40s, 50s or 60s?

       Unlike other holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, there’s no religious or moral component in Halloween—at least not any more.  Although Halloween originated with the Celts 2000 years ago and was designated by Pope Gregory in the 8th Century to honor all saints and martyrs, the holiday evolved into a secular event by the early 20th century here in America. On October 31st, celebrants are not required to stay up past midnight, or encouraged to imbibe large quantities of alcohol and engage in a romantic interlude as they are on December 31st, aka New Year’s Eve (clearly NOT for kids). Nowadays, Halloween is simply about being creative and having fun. The last time I went to a friend’s Halloween party I was in my early 20’s and enjoyed dressing up as geisha girl. Over 30 years later, that same friend is having a party and insisting everyone arrives in costume.  This Halloween evite was totally different from my friend’s low-tech 1970s invitation which was color Xeroxed and sent by snail mail. At first I felt a little like my mom and Scrooge rolled into one opening my Halloween evite.  Finding costumes for me and Henry seemed silly, another annoying chore to add to my lengthy ‘to do’ list, and an unnecessary expense. But then Henry and I started poking around our closets to see if there were any masks or wigs left over from our kids’ Halloween days that we might use, and suddenly we were laughing and having fun trying on crazy (and sometimes suffocating) head wear.

     Wandering down Halloween memory lane, we found Sarah’s Raggedy Anne and Hiawatha costumes, along with Max’s Grim Reaper outfit, and an assortment of accessories. From this amusing Halloween detritus, Henry came up with the costume idea of a dead judge. Who here remembers Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In? “Here comes the judge!”(Henry won’t identify the judge until the party, because he wants to surprise our host, who will no doubt be reading this post before the 31st).  In order to be a proper escort for my husband, I ordered a silvery female ghost costume on line. I’m hoping to hit that sweet spot—the right combination of creepy and pretty.  Immersing myself further into the holiday spirit, I opted for a manicure with silver polish, except for my ring fingers which are black.  As always, I have bought my favorite candies for trick-or-treaters, hoping to enjoy a few leftover mini-Snickers myself.

     Maybe I sound childish, but having fun and laughing with friends has become more precious as I’ve grown older because there are so many more demands and challenges now than when I was single and childless. My daughter Sarah, on the autistic spectrum, has taught me how to have as much fun as possible in the moment and how to hold onto that fun moment as long as humanly possible. Sarah continued to trick or treat beyond her early teen age years, long after her twin brother Max and his neurotypical friends had decided that ringing doorbells was childish and uncool.  Fortunately, nobody ever bullied Sarah or her younger friends as she proudly trick or treated independently.

     But the best news of all is that the world is slowly opening its arms to children with all types of disabilities—at least on Halloween.  Target recently ran an ad for Halloween costumes featuring a disabled girl as Elsa from “Frozen.” A week ago Sesame Street introduced a new autistic Muppet, Julia, so that more people could understand what autism is like from the point of

view of a child on the spectrum.  There’s even a book, Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children, which highlights the commonalities among children—the desire for friendship and inclusion—instead of the differences.  What’s amazing to me—(and “amazing” is coincidentally Sarah’s favorite word of the moment)—is that next year and in the years to come, more kids with disabilities will be able to dress up and participate in Halloween. All kinds of disabled kids will model a variety of costumes; and maybe some kids will choose to dress up as Julia instead of as Elmo or Cookie Monster.

     Halloween offers the perfect holiday opportunity to include myriad different types of people of all ages. What other holiday exists for the sole purpose of using your imagination and having fun?  If you can think of one, count me in.


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