What are your thoughts on Halloween? Personally, I have never enjoyed it. Even as a child, when there were few concerns regarding safety, abductions or foul play, the excitement seemed to elude me. The early dinners of tomato soup and grilled cheese were one of my favorites. However, bundling on the layers under an unwanted costume to stay protected from the cold Midwestern weather held no appeal. Once dressed, and with masks in place and steaming from our breath, we were shooed out of the house. We gathered full sized candy bars, popcorn balls, and pennies dispensed by neighbors before complete darkness descended and we could make our way home. I would wander the streets with my siblings and neighborhood friends with far less enthusiasm than was expected. Dragging my increasingly weighty pillowcase of goodies, I wanted nothing more than to get home, dump it on the ground, sort the haul and get some sleep.
Yes, small children are adorable in their outfits, but really, what parent in their right mind allows children to go to strangers houses, scream “Trick or Treat,” and ask for candy? When I had daughters of my own, I worked valiantly to hide my disdain for Halloween. I did not want to minimize their excitement for the holiday. I painstakingly made creative costumes for them each season. Year after year I sat before a sewing machine making devils, clowns, Care Bears, Rainbow Brite, Captain Hook, and even a Kangaroo. After they lost interest in “trick or treating,” I was no longer required to hide my lack of interest and could breathe a sigh of relief.
Yet it wasn’t until my husband abandoned me that I completely turned my back on Halloween. I found myself at a costume party in the home of a friend. I was extremely apprehensive about attending this event. It was my first outing where I would be single in a room filled with couples. I had declined the offers to attend several times. Yet my friend was supportive and persistent. “Come. You know everyone, and you’re always a welcome guest.” There was nothing I wanted to do less than attend a Halloween party. However, her kind insistence that I attend wore me down and made me feel confident that I could accomplish this next step. I did, however, make a promise to myself and the hostess: “I will make only a brief appearance.”
I was the first guest to arrive, and a glass of wine was poured and placed in my hand. Admiring the new kitchen renovation, I commented on what a difference the changed layout made in the space. I clutched my glass of wine, continued to exchange idle chitchat with her and her spouse, and believed that everything was going smoothly. I marveled at how well I was doing in the situation as more and more neighbors and friends arrived. I admired the creativity of their costumes.I was particularly impressed with the husband who owned a nursery and appeared as a watering can, while his wife was dressed as a flowering plant. My confidence began to diminish, however, as we approached the moment to document the festivities with a picture. I was flooded with memories as each person scrambled to pair with their spouse. I stood there alone.
Suddenly, I experienced unexpected shortness of breath, dizziness, and weakness in my knees as I found myself surrounded by couples with whom we had shared so much. Mingling once again with people who knew me only as one-half of a couple was too much for me to handle. A concerned friend escorted me to my vehicle. I was experiencing my first panic attack. It was possibly the most physically frightening experience I have ever had. It had nothing to do with witches, ghosts, or goblins. Yet it did coincide with my least favorite recognized American holiday. I therefore, respectfully remain less than enthusiastic regarding the idea of small children ringing my doorbell and asking for candy. I like my holidays without the tricks and with only the treats.
How about you? Please let me know your thoughts on or reflections of your own Halloween experiences. I love having insight into how others think about these things.