For as long as I can recall, Halloween has been my favorite holiday. I suppose in the early years — in those days when I still believed a fat man snuck in the front door of my Florida home because, well, we didn’t have chimney — Christmas was my favorite, but most of my adolescent and adult years were spent preparing for this Celtic-inspired holiday. (Yup, it’s Celtic — not Pagan. Don’t believe me, look it up!)
My earliest Halloween memories are simple: I dressed up, I got candy, and I ate candy. Period.
I mean, I dressed up everyday (thanks to Dress n’ Dazzle and 70s’ and 80s’-inspired wardrobe) but on this day— this one day — I got to put on kooky outfits AND get candy for it. Can we say win-win here?
I remember the trash bag-like feel of vinyl costumes and the cheap plasticky smell of drugstore masks. I remember lugging one of those plastic orange pumpkins in the crook of my arm, and I remember the mark it would leave in my forearm — a small, linear, and chasm-like dent— as the weight of Goobers, Mr. Goodbars, Hershey bars, peanut butter cups, and pennies (ugh, pennies) dug its cheap handle into my skin.
And I remember the day after “hangover:” a day when every child seeks to stave off the sugar crash by eating more sugar. (My mom never let me have sugar for breakfast but be damn sure I asked. Be damn sure I tried.)
And as a mom now myself, my love for the day hasn’t waned. I love the smell of roasting seeds — even when I’ve burned them — after hours of picking and carving, painting and decorating. I love seeing trick-or-treaters at my door, and giving them the “good stuff.” And I love dressing up my own daughter. Hell, I love dressing up with my daughter. (We take Halloween very seriously in this house.)
But I already wonder how long it will last. How long will Halloween be cute and fun? How long before she turns to us and asks to ring doorbells alone? How long before we “become lame,” before the whole damn day becomes lame? How long before she decides she doesn’t want to trick-or-treat at all?
It seems silly to lament something that is so many years away. (My daughter turned two in July; she still has years of childish innocence ahead of her.) But is it that far off? I thought the sleepless nights would last forever, and they didn’t. I thought breastfeeding would last forever, and it didn’t. And I thought my daughter would be far older before she told me “no,” before she told me to “go away.”
I want to keep her here, young and shielded from the world, forever. I want to keep her here, in a time of life where the biggest decisions she has to make are what color she wants to use or whether she wants to dance in kitchen or make a fort under the living room table.
I want to keep her here, in a world where dressing up is encouraged and where make-believe and pretend are a-OK.
And I want to keep her here, so she can make the same happy and simple memories I was able to.