Halloween has come and gone for another year. Candy is on discount, costume pop-up stores are packed up and out of town, and jack o’ lanterns on porches are starting to look like centenarians who forgot to put in their false teeth. Halloween is one of my favorite celebrations, even though I don’t really decorate or host elaborate parties or participate in “Thriller” dance-mobs. In fact, I don’t even see any trick-or-treaters in the cluster of apartments where I live; the kids must go into the surrounding neighborhood. Despite my lack of active participation, I love this time of year. I like that centuries-old rituals have lasted and transitioned into secular and casual and fun traditions that involve people of all ages. Halloween evokes passionate enthusiasm and spirited opposition; I get a kick out of that. I have friends who look upon the history of Halloween and refuse to let their children participate because of religious reasons. I have other friends who look upon the history of Halloween and participate with full splendor. I love that we have a holiday that seems to be equally a celebration of what we love (decorations, costumes, candy) and what scares us (spirits, ghosts, the dark).
This year, my Halloween participation was mild and quiet, but still enjoyable. On Friday, October 25, my sister Kelly and I took part in a downtown trick-or-treat for adults, called “Drink or Treat.” Our local downtown development group worked with businesses to organize an evening that would appeal to the twenty-something and thirty-something set. Consider that in our lovely rural-turned-exurban small city, the downtown is mostly dead after six o’clock, except for a few restaurants. It seemed like a great way to breathe a little life into a Friday night. Individuals could buy tickets for $20 for several treats shared by the shops, galleries, and restaurants. As adult “drink-or-treaters” we ambled into various establishments for amusements, drinks, and treats. We drank several Halloween-themed cocktails, got our palms read, painted miniature sugar skulls for the Day-of-the-Dead display at an art gallery, and browsed in bookstores and gift shops. Kelly and I were in plainclothes, preferring the stealth surprise of jeans and sweaters to the more obvious zombie-and-otherwise costumes. It was a kick to poke around downtown on a beautiful fall Friday night. It introduced us to some new local, independent shops, a few of which I plan to support in the upcoming weeks. I hope the businesses that hosted us see an uptick in their sales and that some new shoppers and diners will show their loyalty. I loved going down the street from spot to spot; it’s fun to take a childhood ritual and turn it into an adult rite.
How can we take the joys of childhood and enjoy them in adulthood? How can we be more childlike, without being infantile? How can we gather our joys and share them? How can we relish that which gives us happiness and spread it to others? What would you put in your trick-or-treat bag?