Here’s a thing about me that very few people know: I didn’t celebrate Halloween until I was in college.
The first time I carved a pumpkin I was 18, and it was my freshman year at Nebraska. I mentioned this little tidbit in casual conversation to a cute boy in my honors English class, and he showed up at my dorm room a week before Halloween saying he had a surprise for me. He said to grab my coat, and he drove us up to one store or another. We picked out our pumpkins and a carving kit. We set up shop (newspapers) in my dorm room and went to work. I have no artistic skills whatsoever, and I’m sure I made a giant mess. And I think my smile threatened to swallow my face whole. (He turned out to be gay. Everyone who knows me is laughing right now!)
That same year, or maybe the next, is the first time I dressed up and went out for Halloween. Of course I don’t remember what I dressed as, but I know my junior year, I went as the very cliche school girl Brittany Spears in her video, “Hit Me Baby (One More Time).”
Every year in college, and in the years since, I’ve dressed in something cliche – a cheerleader, one of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” and even Tom Cruise in Risky Business. None have been my finest moments…
…but they’ve all been fun.
I had a very conservative, Southern Baptist upbringing. My church believed Halloween to actually be the Devil’s Holiday and strongly discouraged parents from allowing their children to participate in the typical trick-or-treat, haunted houses, carving, etc. shenanigans. Instead, I did “alternative Halloween” every year – a fun, brightly lit, family-friendly event at church where we got candy while singing praise music. I remember there being cardboard mazes, and hay rides around the church grounds. I grew up liking our version of Halloween, but I never really knew the other side.
So I guess you could say that by the time I hit college and experienced what my peers had been doing for years, I went a little crazy. Those pictures are embarrassing! But really, I’m as glad I experienced an all-out, wear too few clothes in the cold, embarrass myself by performing the “Single Ladies” dance at a party after a few too many drinks version of Halloween as I am the alternative one with which I grew up. All those experiences make me who I am now.