Growing up, we stopped trick or treating around age 8 or 9. I don’t remember the exact phrase or conversation that my father pieced together to make this indescribably unfair and illogical announcement make more sense to three adorable blonde headed children. Looking back I’ve always blamed it on the religious fear my father had of succumbing to the “world” and it’s superstitions. Later he became a Southern Baptist preacher, and I’m afraid to say, that’s when most of it started to fall out from there. We never went trick or treating again.

26 years later, Halloween is my family’s favorite time of year. The one day where we all put aside most of our inhibitions and act like neighbors, as we invite stranger’s children into our “circle” to be entertained and feed a treat. The one day we put down the pen at work and regardless of the deadlines, rush home to prep the kids for the evening. The one day as we take off the masks we’d been carrying around all year, and become…. whatever it is that we want to become, if even for a few hours.

It is this very evening that my children continue to show me the reality of how playful and joyful life, and others can truly be. Even if it is a heartbroken china doll that is seeking revenge on all the little girls who abandoned their dolls or a zombie Jason Scream character. Yet, if I could put aside my inhibitions more often, put aside the deadlines more days and interchange the masks and labels that I so freely want to move about in, they would show me every day how truly playful and joyful life already is.  Thank you for my lovely little goblins.

I am no longer religious, for the western definition of it seems more sacrilegious than what my father must have been afraid of all those years ago. Yet I feel that if there is anything we can teach our children about our higher power, it is to believe so deeply in ourselves that whatever mask we choose to wear and whatever path we choose to travel, as long as we are open to embracing ourselves at every phase in this illogical world of ours, there we will find ourselves. And like a child running through the darkened streets on Halloween, we will find the treat at the end of the dark, lonely and scary driveway.