How Do We Celebrate Halloween in 2020? Try This.

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. I love opening up the door and being surprised by fairy tale princesses, swashbuckling pirates, ghosts, and goblins. It’s not going to happen this year and I’ve been thinking about how to distribute candy, colorful pencils or whether I should be giving out small vials of hand sanitizer.

“You are no fun,” my husband says. “Children want candy. Who wants a pencil?”

“I like a well sharpened No. 2 myself,” I told him. “A nice roller pen, however, is even better, but I understand the preference for sweets.”

We’ve considered setting up a table and using a long broom handle to deliver goody bags to recipients, but that seems too complicated. Probably the delivery of some goodies to neighbors the day before will have to suffice. It would be nice to wear a costume when I do that, but I’ll already be wearing a mask anyway. 

Donning a costume is part of the Halloween mystique and in my house during childhood we had plenty of costumes. We had a huge trunk  with antique dresses, coats, and trousers as well as boxes of lace and fabric trimmings. Some Halloweens I chose to dress up in three different costumes: one for school, one for trick-or-treating, and another for parties. That year I was  a 1920’s bride, a devil, and my favorite book character, Jo March from Little Women.  I wore the devil costume to school and no one could figure out who was that person behind the mask because I’d hidden my hair with a scarf.

For several years, Peter and I made a tradition of going out to dinner on Halloween in costume with one or two other couples. We’d usually pick costumes related to current events.  In 2010 Peter was one of the Chilean Copper miners stuck underground for months.  I wore a suit and a witch hat with the banner, “I am not a Witch” portraying Tea Party  candidate Christine O’Donnell who was running for Senate in Delaware. (She lost to Chris Coons in the general election.) Several bars sponsored highly competitive costume contests and it was exciting to stand outside and speculate on who might be among the finalists. 

Dressing up in Costumes on Halloween Night
Halloween with friends in 2011

This year, if  I were to enter a costume contests and I could figure out a way to create a spinning Lindsey Graham head on a pole to characterize his inconsistencies in following the rules he created as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee,  maybe I’d be a finalist. Or maybe I’d be disqualified for inciting a riot.  But seriously—I’m hoping that after the election and after this is all over, I’d like to be able to have a kind and civil conversation with everyone; regardless of their political leanings. Many of us have been disappointed in different ways and it is time to move forward as united not opposing states. 

With such a contentious election coming up  on November 3rd it is a good thing that Halloween will be celebrated in a more subdued fashion. If people start walking around the city dressed as the candidates, it could get ugly. I worry about people’s reactions after the election results are ratified. There will be winners and losers.  Not everyone will want to accept the results.

At the start of the Pandemic, I witnessed many acts of kindness. Folks volunteering to shop for others, donating food, and offering support to struggling small businesses and charities. Six months in and many Americans are growing fatigued.  We’ve grown irritable. Tired of standing in line to enter the grocery store. Tired of waiting in their car before entering the doctor’s office. Tired of teaching their children at home. Tired of waiting months to visit in person with relatives and dear friends. Tired of readjusting masks that make our faces sweat and fog up our glasses. Tired of paying attention to the marks on the floor in stores telling us where to stand. Tired of singing the Happy Birthday song twice through each time we wash our hands.

The need now, despite our fatigue, is to focus on what many of us do have—a place to live, our health, and food in our bellies. Our fatigue is miniscule compared to what is being experienced by those who have lost their jobs, their livelihoods and members of their family.

Assistance money is currently in short supply and it’s going to be a long cold winter. Some people won’t even have the dollars to pay for heat and warm clothes. Make a special donation to the food bank or local shelter for Halloween and keep making those donations.

While Halloween may have originated with the intent to scare off restless ghosts, Dia de los Muertos (translated as Day of the Dead) celebrates the lives of our deceased ancestors. In the honor of all the 220,000 plus people who have died it is time to join together to make our world a better place for the living. We can’t physically reach out our hands to embrace our fellow citizens, but let’s try to listen with open minds and think before we speak. Hurtful language serves no purpose except to anger and incite. Always there are things on which we all can agree. 

My husband Peter and I picked that yellow pumpkin we’ve grown in our garden and set it on our front steps to join two large pots of orange and purple mums.  The colors around us are warm and soothing.  I’m looking forward to the election being behind us and finding a path toward healing.  

Published by Nadja Maril

Nadja Maril is a communications professional who has over 10 years experience as a magazine editor. A writer and journalist, Maril is the author of several books including: "American Lighting 1840-1940", "Antique Lamp Buyer's Guide", "Me, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat", and "Runaway, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat". Her short stories and essays have been published in several small online journals including Lunch Ticket, Change Seven, Scarlet Leaf Review and Defunkt Magazine. She has an MFA in creative writing from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. Former Editor-in-Chief of What's Up ? Publishing, former Editor of Chesapeake Taste Magazine a regional lifestyle magazine based in Annapolis, and former Lighting Editor of Victorian Homes Magazine, Maril has written hundreds of newspaper and magazines articles on a variety of subjects..

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