Once-a-year challenges: Halloween

Halloween was never a big event when I was growing up. So I’ve never really learnt the social rules around the festival.

I went trick-or-treating once, when I was 7 or 8, at my parents’ instigation. It was a complete failure. Limited to the houses of people that I knew, it shouldn’t have been too bad. Except the older brother of one of my friends answered the door, telling me “get on your bike, sister”. Which confused me entirely: I didn’t have a bike with me, and don’t have any siblings. That’s one of the two memories I have of the evening, the other being the memory of the fear I felt knocking on doors and not quite knowing the reaction I would get.

Now, Halloween seems to be everywhere. And I find that very difficult.

I find adults in costumes, particularly with ‘Scream’-type masks, very intimidating. I don’t know how to react to them. I normally try and stay inside, but I had to go to the hospital today and then to get a prescription. And there were so many costumes around. Even the supermarket cashiers were dressed in Halloween costumes and had their faces painted.

I spend the evening in fear of strangers knocking on my door and demanding sweets or money. I sit inside with the lights off, but I’m still scared of the repercussions if I don’t stick to whatever the ‘correct’ social protocol is. (There doesn’t seem to be a universally-accepted way here of communicating whether you do or don’t celebrate Halloween. And I’ve been targeted before.)

I don’t want to stop anyone else having fun. I just want to be left alone. I just want to not be frightened in my own home, which should be my safe place.

I wonder if there’s a Halloween version of Scrooge?

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