Editor’s Letter, October 2022: Halloween Is a True Family Holiday

As we’ve grown older and gotten wiser, Halloween has stayed with us.
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Halloween was every kid’s favorite day of the year during my childhood in the last century. After reaching a certain age, I was allowed to trick or treat with my brothers and my friends without a parent tagging along—and we ran from house to house for what seemed like hours. One year the elastic string on my brother’s cheap plastic mask broke before we even got to the first house, and he had a cast on his wrist and couldn’t rethread the string. It was like a scene from a war movie: Leave him! We can’t slow down! We’ll come back and check on him later!

Illustration by Lars Leetaru

Kids were kings on Halloween. The only adults who tried to get involved, as I remember it, were the pesky old-timers who engaged you in small talk at their doors, asking about your costume and what street you lived on. Adults always had a big cut of the Christmas scene, with their own gifts, decorations, and fancy meals—but not Halloween. Plus I went to Catholic grade school, so we had the next day off for All Saints Day. Double score!

Slowly but surely, Halloween has changed over the decades. (Spoiler alert: We all have.) I’m amazed and amused at the sheer volume of adult-focused thrills available today, as dissected in “Spooky Season Is Here.” Ghost tours, costume shops, big budget haunted houses, professional-grade pumpkin carvers, and cosplay conventions and YouTubers—Halloween has become a year-round industry. A lot of adults appear to be very happy about it, too.

I get the attraction. Why stop trying on costumes? Why deny yourself the fun of becoming a favorite movie or video game character now and then? Why not keep a bottomless bowl of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups handy?

Based on my own kids’ experiences and the army of visitors we see every October 31, this adult fascination with Halloween doesn’t seem to have ruined the day for children. I think it’s actually turned Halloween into a true family holiday along the lines of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which is a pretty cool treat, don’t you think?

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