It took forever for my children to decide on Halloween costumes this year. After all, corporate America and the internet make costume possibilities endless for children and adults. While this fact frustrates many parents, I absolutely love the fact that my children can literally dress up as anything their hearts desire each Halloween because I never had the chance.

In fact, I remember hating Halloween for much of my childhood. Sure, it was the ’90s and costume choices were almost as abundant as they are now, but that didn’t fly with my mom. Instead, she insisted on not only making costumes for me and my younger brothers each year, but she made matching, thematic costumes every single year.

Trust me, it was awful.

The costumes are forever burned into my memory because they were so cheesy and so, well, homemade. Some years were decent, like the year we went as The Wizard of Oz characters or the year we paraded around as The Three Musketeers. Others, like the year we each donned lifesize cardboard panels of McDonald’s Happy Meal items (no, I’m not kidding), were not only cheesy, but downright embarrassing.

Little old ladies in the neighborhood always adored my mom’s creative efforts… but I didn’t. In fact, each time a child from the neighborhood laughed or commented on my ridiculous homemade costumes, I resented my mom more and more.

I absolutely hated how I felt by the time we reached our front porch every Halloween, so I made a promise to myself: I would never force my children into thematic, matching costumes.

My girls are now five and seven, and minus the year they begged to dress up as Elsa and Anna, I’ve lived up to that promise. This year is no different — my oldest will be an energetic Pikachu while her little sister will be the cutest Little Mermaid this world has ever seen. The costumes might have set me back nearly $50 and took weeks to decide on, but in my mind, that’s all part of the fun. 

I just hope that my choice to do it differently than my mother helps my children enjoy that joy and excitement at least a little bit more than I did growing up. Because, at the end of the day, Halloween is about the magic of the imagination and the excitement that comes from wandering the streets after dark, asking people for candy while wearing the end result of those creative ideas. 

May we all dress up as anyone we want to be on this Halloween. Trick or treat!

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

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