• Originally published in the Kane County Chronicle on Oct. 31, 2009
I celebrated Halloween sporadically as a kid.
My brother and I weren’t allowed to celebrate Halloween through much of our childhood because of religious reasons. And I stood by that decision 364 days of the year.
(To clarify, we did celebrate Halloween before the family started going to church. We have pictures of me as a toddler in the creepiest clown costume ever conjured. My brother was dressed as a cowboy. My mother loved him best.)
But while I agreed in principle with the decision not to celebrate Halloween, it became a much tougher candy bar to chew on when the actual day rolled around and we had to watch other kids 1) get to wear awesome costumes and 2) get free candy for wearing awesome costumes.
Our mother could sense this some years, though, and would let us throw together a quick costume – usually an old sheet with holes cut out for the eyes or a cowboy hat – and go on a quick tour of the neighborhood gathering as much candy as we could in as short of a time as possible – the theory, I guess, being that if we hurried, God wouldn’t catch on to what we were doing.
As the years went by, though, I began to see Halloween less as a time for devils and demons and more as a time for fun costumes and sweets.
And by the time I reached my junior and senior years of college at Indiana University, I was ready to join in the costume fun.
My junior year, I went to my classes as John Cusack from “Better Off Dead.” My senior year, I went to my classes as Peter Pan. (College does strange things to your mind.)
I’ve dressed up just twice since then. The year after college, I wore a hastily put-together cowboy costume for a church Halloween party – or, as the church called it, a harvest festival party – that was a pull-string away from being a dynamite Woody from “Toy Story” costume.
And then a few years ago I wore an even more hastily put-together Bruce Springsteen costume after realizing that all I had clean in my closet was a red bandanna, a white T-shirt and jeans. (Ah, the pre-marriage days.)
While my own opinion of the holiday has changed since childhood, I certainly don’t condemn anyone who chooses not to celebrate Halloween. My mother still doesn’t, and neither do some of my friends. Everybody has the right to decide which holidays they wish to celebrate.
But I’ve come to enjoy the simple pleasures of Halloween – eating candy that’s not been grabbed by the hordes of costumed children sifting through town and carving pumpkins (or – in my case – thinking about a cool design and never getting around to carving it).
And, maybe more importantly, what other day would it be OK for me to dress like Bruce Springsteen?
• Joe Grace is the editor of The Chronicle. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 630-845-5368.