I was never allowed to participate in Halloween growing up. My mother forbade us from going trick or treating and she wouldn’t answer the door when revelers came to our house looking for candy. She just didn’t believe in the “holiday” and thought it was dangerous to go to stranger’s homes and ask for candy. Maybe it’s an immigrant thing.
As a child I hated her stance and begged her to reconsider, but she never did. We lived in America but it was moments like that that made me feel like my Haitian-born parents were running our home like it was back in the old country.
So, here’s the part where I say that being denied this childhood experience has meant that I have spent most of my adulthood trying to make up for it. Not exactly.
Since I have absolutely no personal reference point for Halloween, all of the hoopla around it feels incredibly foreign. The mad rush to find the most creative costume. The questions leading up to it, with folks asking you if you’re going to dress up. I used to keep a pair of orange tights on hand just for the day, and I’d put on a black dress and wear those tights and at least I’d seem festive. Just to do *something.*
I’m feeling extra pressure these days since now I’m the Mom. I’ve had people ask, “So what are you going to dress up your baby for Halloween.” The question gives me a fright. I fear I sound like I’m taking myself too seriously if I relay my Halloween trauma. It’s a day where levity, irony and comedy abound. Saying that you weren’t allowed to do it seems like a buzzkill.
I was in a costume store last week (OK, I did feel compelled to look) and I did pick up a Superman costume that appeared to be in my son’s size. I carried it around the store. I almost made it to the cashier but there was no price on it. The more I thought about it, there wasn’t a price that I’d be comfortable with since spending any money on Halloween was such anathema to me.
When my son gets older, I’m sure he’ll be begging me to buy him a costume and take him trick or treating. My mother’s lessons still reverberate--I tend to think of trick or treating as weird and possibly dangerous. I’m not sure what I’ll do then. In the meantime, we’re going the festive route. He’s wearing an orange t-shirt, which is appropriately festive
Happy Halloween (for all of you who celebrate).