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Halloween a chance to explore social roles

For the last four years since I moved to the condominium where I live in Forest Hill, Halloween has been somewhat of an underwhelming affair.

I have never had a single trick-or-treater. Not one.

This is primarily due my development being comprised mostly of seniors and the facility having a security code at the front door that residents must type in upon entry which prevents kids from just coming into the building.

But this year, I actually had to buy a bag of candy in anticipation of my new neighbors stopping by – the family that moved in next door to me includes two young children.

I have to say I have kind of missed seeing all the costumes and excitement of the kids making the rounds, particularly since my 11-year-old son continued to do his trick-or-treating in our old neighborhood after hid dad and I got separated in 2008.

One couple up the street could be counted on every year to host a party Halloween night where kids and adults could drop by for some apple cider and candy, and I got the chance to see everyone's costumes.

Not that the holiday was my favorite as a kid.

I do still remember my very first costume as a witch in 1970 at age 4. It was a store-bought two-piece set made up of a smock designed to look like witch's clothing and flimsy plastic mask with a rubber band to secure the mask on your head.

However, I would be hard-pressed to recall many other costumes I wore over the years. I do remember dressing up as a die (one half of a pair of dice) one year — I think I was 12. I wore a black leotard and coat underneath this moderately heavy cardboard box decorated as the die. It actually looked pretty cool and was pretty creative on my stepmother's part.

The only other costume I remember is a last-minute outfit I scrounged together — I dressed up as a bobby-soxer ala the TV show "Happy Days," using the saddle shoes I wore to Catholic school, a skirt and sweater and pulled my hair back in a ponytail. I think I was 13 and it was the last year I went trick-or-treating (I figured I was getting too old but my best friend and I decided to go one last time).

This was right around the time I started wearing makeup and was definitely intrigued to be expressing myself as an older teenage girl from the 1950s.

I was never really drawn in by the gore and spook of the holiday as much as the idea of pretending to be somebody else.

For all the controversy surrounding the pagan roots of Halloween, I think the holiday has continued to thrive, in part, because it encourages children and adults alike to explore the nature of social roles, which aside from being a lot of fun actually holds a deeper truth upon closer examination — namely who we are fundamentally transcends any of the roles we may hold in society.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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