“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 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.
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.