The Healing Powers of Halloween

someone was really excited to be a unicorn

I went trick or treating with my two and a half year old daughter, six month old daughter, and wife, who was acting like a giddy two year old herself.

I don’t think that I have experienced trick-or-treating in a small country town before. (And maybe I did, but I forgot, cause I was a stupid kid back then!) I mean, our town is growing, but it still does have the country town feel. The Walmarts and the apartment complexes are moving in. The article about witnessing a country town collide with suburbs is a whole other story. Also, it’s not really “my town”, it’s the “closest town” 15 minutes away, which doesn’t feel so far to me. But yeah, then I realize we’re pretty rural now, and those big cities of population 20,000 seem like they just get too busy some times, you know?

Anyway. It’s got lots of little shops and I think it has multiple holistic healing centers and a small old church converted into a coffeeshop and really its cute in the Gilmore Girl’s sort of way, though it’s definitely not THAT crazy place. You can also get craft beer and have enough great restaurant choices that you don’t feel trapped — a good showing or two from multiple cuisines is fine. Either way, Meghan pretty much wants Thai all the time, so that’s where we pick up from most of the time. Cause ain’t nobody gonna deliver out by you.

It was pretty packed. It seemed like everyone was downtown with their kids, and it was probably the most diverse set of costumes that I’d ever seen. There were guards at every intersection, and those kids did a really great job at keeping traffic flowing. Maybe that was the secret sauce that kept the night going. Then again, maybe I say that cause I was on foot. It was super convenient for me, so I just assume everyone in the cars was fine. They were probably cursing their bad timing driving through this trick or treat NIGHTMARE.

Anyway, this isn’t a review of my town. Don’t move here. It doesn’t exist. Stop sprawl and stay off my lawn. ahem.

I noticed that everyone was pretty…happy. And I hadn’t seen that in awhile. It feels like the everyone is tense. That the news is always terrible. That we’re falling apart. That’s the story you hear if you listen to too much news. And life can be stressful, and it can feel hard to keep going sometimes, even if you don’t pay attention to the news or politics.

Tonight we weren’t falling apart, at all. I didn’t see fights. I just saw people. Families, friends. Those teenagers with plastic bags collecting candy, not wearing costumes, taking candy cause they think they just deserve it. If that’s the biggest problem we have to worry about, then I say let hoodlums be hoodlums.

I have not been smiled at by so many people in a long, long time. People were kind, polite (well, mostly), and seemed to be active in recognizing that this was a complex dance of people, somehow finding a way to turn into a beehive of people functioning together in harmony.

There were a wide ranges of ages — newborns to teenagers, young families, older folks handing out candy. I know that they have a wide variety of beliefs, lifestyles, cultures, strengths and flaws. And I recognized that, at all ages, people can celebrate Halloween in a different way. This is my first year in the PARENTS OF YOUNG CHILDREN Halloween experience (It’s a pretty cute phase.) I’ve also experienced the young part, the teenage part, the college part, the adult house party part, the couples part, the married part, and now the parents of young children part. There’s the awesome Halloween, the lame Halloween, the sexy Halloween, the family-friendly Harvest Party.

You can dress up like something or nothing. This might be the first year I went as myself. (you get it, just didn’t wear a costume, and I’m trying to explain it away). Finding yourself is one of the key components of living life — what a statement, to present yourself at Halloween as the strangest thing of all — yourself.

And if you dress up — you’re pretty much being yourself too. No matter what you pick, you’re expressing some aspect of yourself — even if it’s an aspect you usually keep buried inside of yourself. You get to release that part of yourself and no one can judge you. (they do, though.)

We should live every day like its Halloween. Yes, I do mean by dressing up. I am OK with living in that world, and I encourage us to move in that direction.

And if I’m alone in that, just be yourself, allow others to be themselves, treat others around you with respect, and be kind. Pay attention to kids. Raise them in a village. Smile, and don’t be afraid to do nice things for people you know. Especially if don’t know them well — there’s a lot of people who could be having great friendships if they were ever able to find each other, and isn’t a Halloween party a great way to meet people?

Halloween felt healing this year. A breath of fresh air. A time to experience a large, diverse group of people, just being humans together. An experience that seems to be slipping away.

And maybe that’s just the sprawl. But Walmart does have some great deals on costumes, right?

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