Halloween As You Get Older

I’ve always considered Halloween to be one of my favorite holidays. It made sense for this to be the case as a child. The idea that we have one day a year set aside purely for dressing up as a variety of monsters as well as be provided with free sweets is a wonderful thing. However, at a certain point, the way we celebrate and are expected to celebrate Halloween changes. Although I still enjoy the holiday, I’m no longer sure if these continued feelings are due to nostalgic joy or that it truly tests the stand of time. Here are a few things that I’ve noticed to have changed from my childhood Halloween to now. 

  1. 1. The Costumes

    One of the more obvious changes between our childhood celebration and that of approaching adulthood is the costumes. Showing up to a day of elementary or middle school was surprisingly accepting while decked out in a kangaroo onesie. We would arrive at friend’s houses pre-dinner in order to dedicate the correct amount of time to applying clown makeup or fake blood. It is with great sadness that I look back and realize how much that is no longer acceptable.

    College is wonderful in many ways, but the motivation to dress up as a bat and wander aimlessly around neighborhoods is a bit lacking there. Not only have the costumes themselves changed, but so have the reasons to do so. In the past, there was a good-natured competition between all the neighborhood kids to wear the most exciting thing. I wanted to pass a fellow group of eight-year-olds and have their eyes follow me in either jealousy or awe as I swept by in my (no doubt) very impressive bat costume. I have found that the same bat costume no longer has the same impact on my peers. Animal costumes are and can be popular in college but generally involve more whiskers drawn in eyeliner pencil and a focus on skimpy cheetah print clothes.

    Costumes as a high school or college student are also a bit more challenging to justify spending money on. Although I am just speaking from my current experience as a 20-year-old, this attitude change towards the spooky holiday season will continue to evolve throughout my life. For example, as debatably weird as it could be to dress up and walk around trick or treating now, it would be undeniably weirder as a 50-year-old.

  2. 2. The Candy

    As I age, the appeal of eating endless candy over Halloween has definitely lost a bit of its appeal. This isn’t to say that I won’t indulge or that I’ve lost any love for those discounted and dangerously huge bags of spooky sweets sold at most stores in October.

    However, as a child, I remember the eating of candy being almost a sacred and serious thing. Halloween was the one night that my parents couldn’t and made no effort to control my intake. I was given complete freedom in what and how much I wanted to eat. Perhaps, that might have been a mistake as I do remember making myself a bit sick from excess milky way bars.

    But I also remember the intense trading of candy bars with my friends and brother, trying to select and attain the perfect combination of my favorites. Following this activity, I was territorial and very selective in my eating of it. I currently live by myself and have much more control over what I decide to eat at any given time. As much as I’m sure child me would claim this freedom meant guaranteed ice cream for dinner every night, so far, that has not become the case.

    Since I have no parents around to tell me I shouldn’t have a second dessert, the October 31 desperate downing of sweets no longer feels as necessary as it did to my eight-year-old self. Plus, in all honesty, I don’t think my body can quite handle that amount of sweets any longer. I remember counting up each Reese's and Snickers I would consume, enjoying as the number ticked higher and higher. I’m fairly sure that if I were to eat even close to what I would in the early 2000’s Halloween celebrations, my stomach would reject me and remain very angry for days afterward. 

  3. 3. Family Time

    Two Ghosts Standing in Front of a Brick Wall

    Halloween, at least for me, also used to be more of a family event. I have very specific memories of forcing my parents and brother to dress as characters from “The Incredibles” one year. My mom and I (mostly her, although I would argue I was around for emotional support) made the costumes from scratch, and we still have photos of that night to look back on and laugh at. Thank god we didn’t have access to actual spandex material for the costumes, as I doubt we could have convinced my dad to wear one.

    Sadly, dressing up as a family is no longer possible. I no longer live at home and lack that childish cuteness that allowed me to convince my parents and those around me to willingly participate in group costumes. If I were to ask my father to dress up as a character from any Disney movie now, I’m fairly sure I would simply be given a scoff. 

Regardless of whether our way of celebrating Halloween has changed, I still find myself enjoying its current rendition. The costumes may have moved from cute or childishly spooky to sexy or half-assed, the candy may be mildly less appealing, and family trick or treating has been replaced by sitting at home and giving out the sweets, but it still continues to be one of my favorite holidays. I believe that spooky season can be for anyone, regardless of age or method of celebrating.