Halloween: Let me educate you

Hello friends, it’s that time of year again. Time for people to fuck up one of my very favorite holidays. Consider this post part of my personal mission to abate some of the fuck-uppery. What’s the problem? The problem is that too many of you violate the essential rules of Halloween. And, in modern-day-USA, Halloween only has two rules.

Rule #1: Halloween is about playing dress-up without other people judging you.


Did a boy show up to your door wearing a princess costume? Great. Did the parents/chaperones dress up, too? Excellent. Pack of teenagers who are “too old” to be trick-or-treating? Swell. Is the costume painstakingly home-made? Store-bought? Half-assed? Whatever. You’re answering the door in your PJs, right? Bonus: if you see this kind of variety, congratulations, you live in a neighborhood where people do things a little differently, where they maybe think for themselves a bit.

I’ve seen that meme going around about not saying anything judgy to kids because they may be living with any number of issues from motor skills to social skills to allergies to sensory issues. That’s all well and good but it kind of misses the point. You don’t refrain from judging people not because they may be dealing with tough stuff, you put a cork in it because it’s the right thing to do. Because there is no recorded case of anyone having more self-esteem, more happiness or more well-being after being judged by someone else. True story: judgers don’t feel all that much better after a judgy interaction either.

***The notable exception to this rule are costumes that are racist, sexist and culturally appropriative (Is it clothing associated with a particular culture? One you don’t belong to? You can find something else.). Costumes that attack the basic dignity and humanity of any group of people are not OK.


(screenshot taken from Ohio University’s Students Teaching About Racism in Society’s annual poster campaign)


Fortunately, I’ve never seen a costume like this in person. I’d probably try my best to approach it as a teachable moment rather than judgily. If you have any doubts, it probably is. If you need definititve advice, here’s a chart to help you figure it out. If you think it’s too hard to not pick this kind of costume, here’s some specific help.

Rule #2: Halloween is about candy.

Halloween is about the thrill of free candy. It is not about healthy alternatives, or floss/dental hygiene supplies, Bible tracts, or other bullshit. It is not about your personal agenda. Yes, have allergy-friendly candy. Yes, have non-candy-alternatives that are fun or delicious. If you want to control the outflow of candy, physically hand a piece to each kid. If you hold a bowl out, deal with whatever happens without being a jerk. If a kid takes two pieces, or a fistful, or takes a piece and then decides to swap it for something else – just let it happen. When you pass a bowl of something around at a party or a dinner table, do you say things like, “only one scoop of mashed potatoes!” or “six Doritos per person!”? No, you don’t. When someone holds a bowl out, it’s an invitation, a gesture of generosity. BE A GENEROUS PERSON. If you aren’t in financial shape to buy a bunch of candy to give away: make plans to go over to a friend’s house and help give out candy, if you have friends with kids, tag along on the trick-or-treating walk, or just keep your front porch light off.

And that’s it. That’s all there is to it. Remember: no one is forcing you to open your door on Friday night. If you choose to participate, follow the rules. If you don’t want to follow the rules, don’t participate.

If you think I’m overreacting, just spend a few moments thinking about your favorite holiday, then imagine me shitting all over what is special and unique about it, and note your emotional response.



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