I hate Hallmark holidays, but man, I love a good Halloween.
In my mind, Halloween defines what a perfect holiday should be. Here’s why:
Free candy. ‘Nuff said.
There’s no religion involved, or, at least, no one in my life puts a particularly religious spin on Halloween; everyone can celebrate, and just for a night, everyone gets to have fun together.
I LOVE dressing up; I think that all of the effort of putting together the perfect Halloween costume culminates in the payoff of even one person telling me they love my outfit or recognizing my costume on the spot. I have always gone all out for every spirit day or dress-up day, so Halloween is the perfect time to let that love for costuming shine.
Have I mentioned the candy yet?
There are fun “aesthetic” traditions like pumpkin carving and house decorating, there are delicious food traditions such as bowls of candy and roasted pumpkin seeds and, of course, there are those costumes I love so much. Really, Halloween has it all.
But recently, I’ve seen a rise in Halloween-haters among the people I know: folks who would rather do homework at King Library than go out on Halloween night, coworkers who don’t jump at the offer my bosses made to let us wear costumes to work on Monday, etc. People are beginning to complain that Halloween is being Hallmark-ified, much like Valentine’s Day, and so why should we keep throwing so much effort into celebrating it?
Well, I’m no stranger to hating on Hallmark holidays. I’ve done it three years in a row through my “Love, Ames” columns, actually: in 2020, 2021 (ish) and 2022. I’m sure I’ll hate on it again this coming Feb. 2023.
Halloween is different to me, though, no matter how much money we spend on it. And the reason for that is only one word.
As children, we don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day. Sure, we buy $1 carnations in our school cafeteria to send to our friends and hand out cartoon- or comic-themed valentines to our classmates. Maybe we watch one parent hand roses to the other and watch cheesy rom-coms at night. If you’re me as a child, your mom makes you heart-shaped pancakes in the morning for breakfast, topped with strawberries and whipped cream in the shape of a smiley face.
But Valentine’s Day is really for the teenagers and adults — the people who are actually using it to celebrate romantic love, not kiddie puppy crushes in the third grade.
Halloween, however, is for everyone.
Kids and adults alike dress up. There’s a social system of children asking for candy and grown-ups giving it to them. (Then eating the leftovers.) Anyone can enjoy a good pumpkin carving event or spooky movie night. There’s no limits, no restrictions. Even babies look super cute in a little Halloween costume.
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(See the above photo of me at one-and-a-half. I went as a Hershey’s kiss that year, and I think I have yet to beat that costume now, at twenty-one-and-a-half.)
College is really the last place that we can pretend to be kids. Next year, I’ll have graduated, and who knows what comes after that? A job, more school or something different? The unknown is terrifying, and I doubt I’ll have time to pretend to be a kid anymore. (Not to mention the social judgements one gets from having “not grown up.”)
But here, while I’m still bachelor’s-less, I can still tap into that childhood nostalgia that seems to run rampant at colleges across the nation.
I can watch “Big Time Rush” with my friends. I can scream-sing the lyrical and musical masterpiece “Man or Muppet” in the car. I can show up to work dressed as a minion on Halloween.
I’m technically still able to do all of that next year, but the need for nostalgia right now is overwhelming. I want to hang on to my childhood, and the Halloweens that peppered it with laughter and costumes and candy, for as long as I can.
So I’ll gladly spew vitriol against any other Hallmark holiday, but hey, leave my Halloweens alone. Let me be dramatic about how much I love Oct. 31; let me have my childhood Halloween one last time before I have to grow up and leave my youth behind.
By the way, I’m going as Annabeth Chase, Scout Finch, Shaggy Rogers and a monarch butterfly this Halloween. I may also throw in a Cheryl Blossom costume, for I am a firm believer in the fact that no one can have enough Halloween costumes. So don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Happy Halloween to you, Oxford, and especially to the class of 2023. Let’s get that bread — or, really, candy — and enjoy our last college Halloween!