Halloween is a children’s holiday. The older you get, the more pathetic it feels to dress up in costumes and ask for candy. As a Christian adult, I’ve only participated in adult-friendly October 31st holidays: All Saints Day, harvest festivals, and the one with the most riveting and life-giving name: Reformation Day. All of these are basically celebrated in the same way that middle class adults celebrate anything. You sit, you drink, you eat, you talk.
This year, Nehemiah will dress up as Tigger and Eliza will be a “pink, sparkly butterfly.” Last year they were Pooh and a pot of honey. They have been loaded with anticipation since late September, when the grocery stores started tempting them with giant orange and white pumpkins. It’s an opportunity to combine two mind-blowing activities: dress-up and candy-eating, and to do them outside, with adult approval. Adults, whose idea of dress-up is cinching their waists with neutrally-colored belts and noosing their necks with conservative ties. One day a year adults approve of fun clothes!
At some point I got too old for this. The kids want me to be Christopher Robin. I’m reluctant, both because of the high-waisted red shorts in the frigid autumn, and because the idea of a 34-year-old man dressing up like a little boy is creepy in a way not even appropriate at Halloween.
And there’s another reason, and it’s an emotional one, and I feel it every time I start doing an impression to make someone laugh or start writing about some imaginary character in one of my stories. Make-believe is a kid’s thing. Adults concern themselves with reality. When they dress up they dress-up formal, so that they can win friends and influence people. So they can advance themselves, even if they don’t know quite who they are.
Children just do it for the sheer hell of it. The experience of bending their identities into the world of fiction is not worth missing, ever.
They don’t quite know who they are. And they don’t care. They’re just so, so happy.