As children, adults would always tell us not to grow up too fast. Of course, when you’re nine, twelve or even fifteen, that proposal means nearly nothing to you. However, it’s not because it’s a cliche or a stereotypical “adult saying.” It’s because we don’t understand its significance until we begin to grieve over the time that’s passing. And time is passing.
Swiftly. Swifter than we realize.
When we approach adulthood, life comes with obligations. We have a tendency to harden our hearts against the immature, childish experiences we used to love. We end up in a strange phase where we rush to obtain perceived maturity and conceal that vulnerable part of ourselves at the expense of our enjoyment. It becomes natural to replace “Goosebumps” with “American Horror Story” and candy with potato chips. Eventually, trick-or-treating is next to go.
One of the monumental breaks from childhood is the decision not to trick-or-treat. This commonly couples with the claim, “I’m too old for that kind of thing” or “trick-or-treating is for little kids.” When most people reflect on why they stopped trick-or-treating on Halloween, they inspect the cliche objects and music that come along with it. Hollow-boned plastic skeletons, witches’ hats, jack-o-lanterns, “Monster Mash” by Bobby Pickett playing in the background. In this world, at this age, the stereotypical, manufactured “children’s” Halloween tends to be all people see. If you reach into your heart and all you can find is that fabricated image, I can’t blame you for never wanting to return. However, there is so much more to our annual holiday traditions below the surface.
Witnessing Halloween night come alive is an experience nearly every family gets to encounter and is miraculous in its own unique way. What most people manage to breeze over is the authenticity of that night. Rather than looking at the objective factors, we should identify Halloween by the subjective factors; the emotions that affect us personally are the ones that matter. The anticipation arising while you step outside with your costume on, the bite of crisp air and shadows of bare trees on the path to a stranger’s porch, and the warmth of home when you return with bags full of chocolate are all models of the underlying charm of Halloween. These sentiments will prevail throughout our lives, but will never compare to when we were young.
Childhood is not a measurement taken by the day. We don’t say goodbye to it the day we turn eighteen and become legalized as adults. We say goodbye as we grow out of the carefree, pure people we used to know. As we become exposed to the world, the fondness and marvel in everyday life that once buzzed through our veins seem to die out. Yet, most teens have an impulse to blow past that untroubled stage, which I can’t reasonably comprehend. Why hurry to mature and grow out of that immature, vulnerable stage? Why race to trade the kindhearted, curious eyes for ones that have endured difficulty and produced resiliency? Consider these questions carefully before permanently closing the door on these experiences.
I implore you not to rush out of events unique to this period of your life. Preserve these juvenile adventures and maximize your time living in what will soon be a distant past. Rewatch your Halloween family favorites, relish in sugar highs, get out when the night comes alive and choose to go trick-or-treating while it’s still an opportunity. Someday in our years of adulthood, we’ll look back on these candied recollections and wish we could live them one last time.