It annoys me with all that I have. But my boys love Halloween. They don’t understand why I don’t decorate the house in August or create a neighborhood haunted house in the basement. Sigh.
I’ve been thinking about why it means so much to my child on the autism spectrum though. As he has gotten older, and as life has grown more complicated, I can see why the old days of trick-or-treating remind him of simpler times when everyone was included and when life made more sense to him.
Halloween is simple. You dress up. You knock on doors. You get candy. There aren’t many surprises for my son on the spectrum. It is simple and clearly defined.
The neighborhood rallies together in the streets.
It is social without being uncomfortable. You can hide behind your mask if you don’t want to talk. But you are there right in the middle of all the fun, exactly where you
like to be.
You get rewarded for your efforts with gobs of goodies. And you celebrate with your family over your big wins.
It’s different today. It may have taken a few heated discussions as to why it is inappropriate for a teenager to trick or treat. And you may reach out to those same friends from years ago in the hopes that they will want to case the neighborhood together like the old days. Those really were great memories.
You don’t quite understand why the old buddies have moved on, and it still hurts just a bit.
You dress up anyway this year. Just because it’s fun. And because wearing a mask is awesome.
This year we will enjoy passing out candy and getting to know some of the younger neighborhood kids, sharing in their excitement. We will get to learn new Halloween traditions and understand that new things may not be so bad after all.
But if a teenager knocks on your door, promise me you will give him a hug and an extra handful of candy. And – oh – don’t be afraid to hold a 15 minute conversation about Avengers Endgame to a guy in a beard and a mask.