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Why I'm Crazy for Halloween

I was raised a home-schooled Evangelical and was one of eight kids. We were proto-Duggar and we liked it. Every year, at the end of October, my family carved pumpkins and ate candy and went to our church's Harvest Festival. But when it came to witches, ghosts and zombies, my parents drew a firm line. When our neighbors put up spooky decorations, my mother led us in prayer to beseech God to stop their souls from being drug down into the occult. We were allowed to dress up in costumes, but they had to be Biblically inspired. I dressed up as the rainbow that Noah saw (my older sister was the burning bush), the Bride of Christ (for us Baptists that's the church, not a nun), Jezebel and Nehemiah, the cup bearer to the king (I had a cup and carried a bear. I really phoned it in that year).

So, it should come as no surprise that my first Halloween in college I dressed up as a slutty ghost. Also, Scary Spice. The next year I was a zombie, complete with fake blood and dead eyes. And while my soul has yet to slide into the burning depths of hell and I'm not a member of the occult (that I know of), I love Halloween.

When my daughter was born, I was thrilled. I mean, I loved her and everything like that, but I was mainly excited for the costumes. For her first Halloween, she had two costumes: a robot and a pumpkin. This year, she also has two costumes: R2D2 and a ghost. Yes, I know I'm in a robot rut, but I don't care. I wanted to make her zombie Elmo, but my husband said, "Think of the therapy." He's such a fun hater.

Ghosts. Ghouls. Witches. Death. Or (the horror!) fairy princesses. I don't care. I celebrate them all, and I hope that my daughter grows up dressing up as whatever she wants. Because beyond its roots as a festival to celebrate the fall harvest and revere the dead, Halloween is a festival of costume. It's the one night a year where it's perfectly OK to don a cape or tiara and strut about with fake blood running down your cheek. Halloween is a night where we can let our crazy out and get rewarded with candy, hot chocolate or in my case a hard apple cider.

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Growing up is all too often a process of learning rules, right and wrong, social norms and expectations. I've already been told that my daughter dresses too much like a boy. She doesn't wear bright enough colors. She needs to look like more of a girl. She's only 19 months old, and already there are rules and expectations. Halloween is the one night when we can cast off those rules, slap on a mustache along with fangs and hit the town.

I hope when my daughter is older she can let her imagination escape beyond the expectation of a cute ladybug or Cinderella costume. I want her to grow up knowing that life isn't all rules of dress and societal norms. That she can be crazy. She can be weird. Or, she can be a princess, if she wants. To me, delving into the world of princesses is scarier than any witch costume.

Someone should pray for our souls.

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