For Halloween this year, my daughter has decided she wants to be a witch. This decision wasn’t made easy considering she also wanted to be a fox, mail carrier, dragon and a cat.

My husband and I aren’t sure how she came to this conclusion, considering we haven’t really watched anything with witches, except for the occasional Halloween kid’s music video. 

When I asked what made her finally decide on being a witch (despite the fact that I’d already bought the costume), she just said “I’ll scare people, but it’s just for fun.”

I was hesitant to show my daughter anything “scary” until she seemed ready. This was around the time she turned three. Before that, anytime a creepy image popped up in a show or book, she would get a look on her face, say “I don’t like that,” or curiously ask what exactly it was that we were seeing. I knew she needed more time. The version of “scary” I mean is childlike and thrilling. Not gory and blood-filled. I don’t understand introducing themes like that to children. You can’t reverse what your children see.

As a child, I loved Halloween, but I could get scared. I remember wanting my dad to turn off the Michael Jackson “Thriller” music video. Or the time my mom, sister, and I were watching an episode of Reading Rainbow that showed a man having a lion face put on him by a make-up artist. Both times, my parents tried to console me and show me there was no reason to be afraid, but I wouldn’t believe them.

In high school, I was obsessed with horror movies. I probably watched over half the horror selection at Hollywood Video. Remember that place? I’m not sure what drew me to those movies at that time in my life. It was a difficult time with a lot of isolation and maybe they helped me escape the realities of everyday living.

After having my daughter, my love of horror movies changed. I developed an aversion or really a fear of them. Maybe it was because I’d just brought a life into the world and truly understood the heaviness of it all. I didn’t want to feel the jumpiness, the uncertainty of what would happen next. I was living it with a newborn. I was very picky about what I watched the first couple years of my daughter’s life.

Now that fall has begun, and darkness comes earlier, I’ve found myself longing for the mystery that comes from maybe not the horror genre, but thrillers. I remember being upset when my body rejected the genres I used to love. Surprisingly, I had to grieve that at the time. But proclivities come and go throughout our lives, and we don’t always know when and how.

My daughter keeps asking what I will be for Halloween. I think the last time I dressed up was in high school. I went as a construction worker because I already had the hard hat and vest for some reason. My friends and I tried to get candy one last time before we were considered “too old” to trick or treat. I think we’d already reached that point. 

Perhaps this year I will dress up. I’ll keep it simple. What was your favorite costume growing up?


Justa Lanie Garrett is a lifelong resident of Baytown.

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