Dear Halloween,

A letter to my childhood obsession

Lakshanyaa Ganesh

You used to be my absolute favorite holiday. Every year, I’d beg my parents to go candy shopping as soon as they lined the Target aisles with spooky black bats and cartoonish pumpkins, replacing September’s school supplies. I wanted to make sure our house was the house — known for having the best selection of candy, the ones any elementary school kid would give anything for. I wanted the jackpot — king-sized Kit-Kats, Twix, Swedish Fish and Airheads. I secretly hoped my parents would buy an extra bag or two just for my brother and me to split, but alas that almost never happened.

I’d start planning my costume months in advance, consulting my collection of Party City costume catalogs for ideas. By the time October rolled around, I’d have gone through at least 20 different versions of seemingly the same witch or pop star or bumblebee costume, but never seemed to find the perfect one until October 30.

The night before, I didn’t get much sleep in anticipation of knocking on doors and asking strangers for candy. You were the only excuse I had for being able to wear a tall black witch hat around all day and not be questioned. If you, unfortunately, fell on a school day, nobody would be able to sit still. Our teachers would succumb to our excitement and would replace normal curriculum with fun coloring pages and word searches that were themed around you. Especially during the earlier years of elementary school, we held school-wide costume parades, where we would happily spend two hours of the day showing off our sparkly costumes to our friends and parents.

But, as the years went on, the spark that you brought me started to fade. Every year after elementary school, the magic that had seemed to come with the turn of the seasons fizzled out. Suddenly, fall was about school starting again, not about going trick-or-treating. Instead of feeling the thrill of roaming the neighborhood with my friends at night, the last time I went trick-or-treating two years ago, I just felt cold and uncomfortable. The spooky skeletons guarding every house weren’t what sent chills down my spine, though; it was remembering I had a math test the next day that I didn’t study for that gave me goosebumps. Instead of cackling in delight when I’ve finally convinced my parents to splurge on decorations celebrating you, I groan and complain as my parents drag me around Target, barely even noticing the bats or pumpkins anymore.

I guess that the fading of the spark you brought me may have had something to do with growing up, but …that’s not fair. I don’t want to view you as just another day because I have responsibilities now. I don’t want to be measuring my months in test dates over holidays. I want that specific feeling of overwhelming excitement after seeing the Target aisles decked with spooky paraphernalia to come back, instead of trying to shake off the discomfort that comes with realizing all the paraphernalia represents capitalism at its finest.

Now, if you were a real and physical being, you’d probably roll your eyes and scoff. At the end of the day, I do have a say in what “growing up” consists of. It’s so much easier to brush you off and claim that you, and all other holidays, are little more than tools for capitalist propaganda, rendering all of y’all useless. It’s easier to blame my lack of excitement when it comes to you on growing up and maturing, rather than acknowledging my own shift in priorities. Instead of my head brimming with costume ideas and fantasies of eating candy everyday until New Years, my head now swims with math formulas and biology concepts.

But who said I can’t have room for both? Until now, I’ve never really realized that growing up and getting excited about seemingly “childish” things aren’t mutually exclusive. This year, I’ve noticed the spark is starting to come back. Crunchy leaves are starting to litter the sidewalks again, and the crisp October breeze is slowly stirring that old feeling of excitement awake. Don’t get me wrong, there are still quite a bit of math formulas swimming around in my head, but the other day, I spent a solid half hour fantasizing about the the bucket of candy filled to the brim that my not quite as cynical, eight year old brother would bring home. When October rolled around this year, I was actually excited about the start of the holiday season – and not just because that meant more breaks from school (although that’s a very appreciated bonus).

I found my old pointy witch hat buried in the back of my closet the other day, and I might whip it out and go for a stroll around the neighborhood with my brother when it’s time to celebrate you this year. I think I’m starting to fall back in love with you, to the point where you may be my absolute favorite holiday again. Because hey, nobody ever said I couldn’t memorize formulas while wearing a witch’s hat.

Love, Lakshanyaa