What are you going to be for Halloween?

A friend of mine mentioned on Twitter the other day that it was already time to start thinking about Halloween costumes. I knew she meant for her daughter, but she and I have been friends since 1st grade. So, I replied, “What are you going to be for Halloween this year?”

The question echoes through all our years of growing up. There was a time in all our lives when that was a crucial question. A major decision. Should I be a cat or a witch?

Once you made your choice for the year, you had to live with it. It defined that time. That was the year I was a Hula Girl. Remember the year I wanted to be a hatching chick and Leo made me the papier-mache egg costume?

Of course, school made it a big deal, what with the parades and parties. Halloween night in Denver tended to be a bit of a bust, since it usually snowed, forcing us to cover our costumes with parkas and scarves. But we were better off than some places who didn’t allow trick-or-treating at all.

I recall how reluctantly we gave up the costumes and the childhood attachment to what we would “be.” In middle school our parents informed us we were too old to go trick-or-treating. Sure we could have parties, but costumes were often out. A new sense had emerged that dressing up for Halloween was uncool. Costumes were silly. Even today, there are adults who flatly refuse to wear costumes for anything at all. Too much effort. Too embarrassing. Inside them, I know there must be children who pondered with enthusiasm and excitement just which fabulous creature to be for Halloween.

The question was an echo, also, of the one every adult asked us: What are you going to be when you grow up?

To which we were often handed a pre-established list of choices. The eternal round of doctor, fireman, teacher, nurse. The Halloween question we asked each other and the answers were infinite. Never mind how many Mutant Ninja Turtles there were in the heyday. Every princess became a unique snowflake. Every pirate had a particular style. In our imaginations, we became beautiful and valiant, terrifying and strong.

We became more than what we were.

What would it be like, I wonder, if we carried that tradition all our lives? I would love to hear adults turning to each other in September and asking, what will you be for Halloween? Recall the childhood rules: you can’t repeat a costume, cuz that’s lame. You can’t be the same thing as your sister or your friend, unless it’s a group theme.

Most important: have fun and let your imagination run wild.

9 Replies to “Being”

  1. Love the fairy costume!

    I have been informed by Wee-Niece that I am to be a princess this year…whether that's a RennFen sort or a Disney sort is TBD.

    –Princess Ariel of Westmoorland

  2. I am one of the lucky ones. My husband and I dress up every year. In fact we sometimes do two different costumes because we attend our friends annual halloween blast blow out and we decorate our home and give out candy every year.

    I live in a pretty big neighborhood. Our local fire department is on hand for the festivities and we have a blast. I promise to post pics this year of the decorations and the costumes.

    God, I love halloween. Know why? Cuz I get to be a kid all over again.

    As for what I am going to be this year, I am thinking the devil. But I promise to do it up right.

  3. Love the costume. I guess I was a lame dresser-upper as I always went as a gypsy (still do most of the time). Guess I've always known what I really want to be: a gypsy fortune-teller.

  4. Great costume, Jeffe! You look all sparkly and stuff.

    I stopped dressing up when I was 10…but started again when I got to college. I've been a witch (of course), Magenta from Rocky Horror, a pirate, and more recently, a naughty school girl.

    I have no idea if we're doing anything this year, or what I'll dress as if I go. Maybe a Roller Derby chick.

  5. Thanks for all the thumbs-up for the fairy costume! I had a great time putting it together – and fortunately got to reprise it for the fairy ball at the RT convention.

    Princess Ariel the Red – Love it! There's a comfort in being "assigned" a costume.

    Kelly – I wish we had a party to go to or that our neighborhood has trick-or-treaters, but alas we're too rural.

    Keena – you ARE a gypsy fortune-teller!

    Ooh, Danica, if I get invited to a party, I'm totally ripping off your naughty school-girl idea! I have the perfect pleated plaid mini…

  6. For a couple of years we were a pirate and his wench. Last year we went as the grim reaper and his perky angel assistant. my husband has requested that i where something skimpy this year we'll see. Love the fairy costume.

  7. Heh. I still dressed up in high school, lame or not. Even did a few of the big parade float type things.

    Some of the people at work still dress up for the office.

    On the other hand, I wear arm socks a lot and I get a lot of weird looks for it. Maybe that's my everyday Halloween?

  8. That's so great, Chudney, that your husband asks for "something skimpy"! Maybe YOU should be a naughty schoolgirl!

    Yeah, Mynfel, I think it's often about opportunity. If I worked in a big office, I'd totally dress up. (I wouldn't wear arm socks, though)

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