Masking Up


Halloween has always represented a spirit of fun for me. Putting out candies, celebrating fall harvests and colored leaves, and of course, getting dressed up in creative outfits that hide who you are is big, really BIG!

But am I getting too old to enjoy the fun, games, and dress up? I mean, I was always told as a kid that I could dress up for Halloween until sixth grade was over. Then it was time to get into the serious business of growing up. What a great way to sell that concept, right? You can’t put on costumes any more, and your participation is reduced to handing out candy, not hoarding pillowcases full for yourself.

Thank goodness they invented Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF just in time to stretch out costuming for a couple more years. And bonus! Lots of the moms in our neighborhood were softies, gave me quarters for the donation and a few pieces of candy as well. How cool is that?

Fast forward to today. I am no where near age appropriate for dressing up, and yet here I am, planning my second Halloween costume of the season. That’s right. Two costumes in one year. I can sense my mom rolling over in her grave right now.

But I believe that dressing up for this creepiest night of the year started among adults. Forgive me, but I have limited access to the Internet today, so can’t verify the research I did quite some time ago. My memory, while faulty these days, has a picture that Halloween, or All Hallows Eve was started at the end of the harvest season hundreds of years ago. In those days it was believed that the spirit of death could wander with more freedom for a night and steal away the souls of good people everywhere. In defense, people would dress up as someone or something unrecognizable so as to be able to wander in safety to their neighbors’ homes. While we live more sophisticated lives today, dressing up to protect our souls remains with us.

And that leads me to ask, don’t we regularly dress up and put on mask? What women today haven’t put on make up to “hide wrinkles” or “be you–only better?” And what about men, who find strength in the uniforms they wear? Standing 20 yards out, can you really tell one fully clad football player from another? Do you know who is hurt and who is healthy?

The same is true in writing characters–especially mystery characters who have a lot to hide. Who’s telling the truth and who’s hiding something from your detective or amateur sleuth? That’s both the fun and the core of being human. We all wear masks. We all have something to protect or hide.

So yes, I’m dissing up tomorrow night. I’ll go celebrate Halloween with my daughter and granddaughter, then go celebrate more with friends from dance. And you know what? I’m definitely NOT too old for this.

How ’bout you? What mask will you wear this holiday? What masks do you enjoy wearing or observing in others? Where will Halloween take your spirit this year?

P.S. Writing from the road today. Apologies for no pictures

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3 thoughts on “Masking Up

  1. That’s what happened for me! My mom didn’t want me to trick-or-treat past age 10, but when I came home with the milk carton for Unicef I got to go out through age 12!

  2. You’re so right, Liesa, we all wear disguises or masks in some manner (‘mascara’ even means mask) so why not get dressed up for Halloween – good for you! I wasn’t familiar with the origin of Halloween costumes as in France we traditionally only celebrate Nov. 1 (All Saints) – although Halloween is becoming more popular now.

    I love seeing the children in costumes, of course, but the adults in costume somehow make me smile even more….. Hope you have a great Halloween!

  3. Hi Luanne and Letizia,
    I’m sorry it’s taken a while to get back to you. I returned from Hollywood late Sunday and seem to have been “falling” more behind by the minute! Still, I love your comments and your thoughts. Isn’t it interesting to witness cultural changes before our eyes? Not sure whatever happened to trick-or-treat for UNICEF, but it was fun while it lasted, and Letizia, when I lived in England the children there didn’t celebrate Halloween either, but Guy Fawkes night, where some sort of effigy is burned to commemorate the execution of some English traitor from a few centuries ago. Not quite sure how that works, but it’s interesting.

    Wishing you both all the best now, and through all the winter holidays.

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