For me, though, Halloween wasn't just a day to dress up. It was an opportunity to become someone else. In sixth grade I came to school dressed as Mae West...yes, that Mae West: a twelve-year old boy dressed like a sex symbol from the early days of the talkies.
A few years later, I was Charlie Chaplin...studied his movements, watched his films; I became the Little Tramp.
When my wife, Mary, and I started dating, we would have themed costumes. In college I dressed as Dave Letterman, and she was Paul Shaffer. In 1992, I rented the full-on gnarly Batman costume from a costume shop, and Mary made the best-ever Cat Woman outfit.
And, in those days, we had places to go in our costumes. We'd go to friends' parties or out on the town. That Batman year, we ran into a Penguin, and it was a blast playing our roles out and about.
Then, when we became parents, we involved our little one in our tradition: The Flintstones, with Pebbles; Popeye, Olive Oyl and Swee' Pea. Then we had our second daughter: Little Orphan Annie, Lilo and Stitch, Peter Pan.
Every year, we'd go to the downtown mall and walk about Trick-or-Treating with the kids, and people started to look forward to our annual arrival to see what we were going to pull off that year. Then, we'd head off to Sears for our yearly Halloween photos. One of my favorite memories was when we were dressed as The Incredibles and we were running late for our Sears' appointment.
It was just like the scene in the movie with the super-family in the van. My wife was telling me what exit to get off at and where to turn. Then, we plowed out of the van, running through the parking lot and then through the store like a family of superheroes. The looks we got were priceless.
I know the holiday is really supposed to be about the kids, but deep inside I knew it was really about me. I mean, one year I dressed as Howie Mandel and my wife and daughters wore matching dresses and carried silver cases. We were the cast of Deal or No Deal. Guess I love the attention.
Then, it happened. Our oldest daughter was done doing the family costumes. It came out of left field. I wasn't prepared. I wish she could have just warned us (me), but it was time: "I think I'm not going to do the whole Sears thing this year," she said matter-of-factly. And that was that. It was over.
No! Just one more year. It would be a beautiful send off. We'd go as The Hunger Games. My oldest would be Katniss, her sister, Prim, my wife as Effie Trinket, and me as Caesar Flickerman. But, it was not meant to be.
We tried another costume with just the three of us that year, but things had changed too much too quickly, and our youngest decided she was ready to go solo as well, leaving just me and my wife. So, last year we started where we left off and went as a twosome: The Queen of Hearts and The Mad Hatter.
It'll take some getting used to, but we'll make the "new-old" Halloween work for us.