Trying on a Unicorn: Halloween as an Excuse for Fantasy

I really hate being scared. Being scared makes me angry, and being angry makes me cry, which just makes me more angry. This applies to movies, ghost stories, extreme sports. Haunted houses are not my thing, and I’m a bit of a party pooper on sleepovers and camping trips.

As a reader I’ve gotten to the point where I actually like thrillers, dark fantasy, and those books that skirt the edges of creepy. Scary video games are all right to watch other people play, as long as I can hide under a pillow for the jump scares.

But I love Halloween. I love the pumpkins, the black cats, and those flattened witches that have flown into someone’s house. (Don’t tell my husband, but I secretly want one of those.)

And the costumes. There’s the heart of it. Halloween hasn’t ever been about scary for me. It’s always been about the costumes. Forget the candy, trick-or-treating was just the best runway in town.

I mean, my favorite games as a kid were dress up and pretend, but Halloween was a socially sanctioned opportunity to leave the house dressed like a unicorn…

Photo Credit: Kim Grove (1989)

…or a pioneer girl…

Photo Credit: Kim Grove (1994)

…or a wizard from your own imagination complete with backstory. In case anyone ever asked. Yeah, I was super popular in school. Can you tell?

Photo Credit: Kim Grove (1998)

And I was lucky enough to have a mom who could pull together a unicorn costume, not to mention every Disney heroine you can think of.

Halloween was a chance to try on a character for a day. To be someone heroic and exciting when I was anything but. Let’s be honest, this is a big part of the reason I read and write fantasy. To be someone else. Because walking around in costume outside of a convention is asking for some strange looks…which means I should probably get into cosplay. Too bad I’m not brave enough to go full out as Sailor Moon. The heels alone would probably kill me.

I think everyone needs a chance to be someone else for a day, if only to understand the world better. Whether that’s through books or video games or costuming. What’s the saying about walking in someone else’s shoes? I take it literally. Seriously, Arwen must have had someone else cook all her meals because you just can’t even in those sleeves.

Me as Arwen Undomiel and my husband, Josh, as Finn the Human; Photo Credit: Arielle Sigler (2013)

This is something I’ve really been looking forward to doing with my own kids. Making costumes, parading them around the neighborhood, imbuing them with a healthy love of make-believe. They’ll be able to try on whoever they want, and hopefully in the process, become bigger themselves. Who knows, maybe this year I’ll go as someone who’s willing to try on scary for a day.

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  • Carey Ballard October 25, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    Yes! Someone else who gets it. This is what Octo-Halloween is for! Cute costumes. Love the inventiveness.

  • A.J. October 25, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Here’s for “socially sanctioned” opportunities to become someone else (not that I don’t do that every day in my head, but you know… outwardly lol)

    • kendrame October 25, 2017 at 7:30 pm

      As long as I can control my facial expressions I figure no one needs to know who I am in my head that day…

  • Shara White October 25, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    Those costumes are adorable and awesome. Now that you’re the adult in the family, are you making the costumes yourself? And what are you and the family going as this year?

    • kendrame October 25, 2017 at 7:26 pm

      Luckily my mom taught me to sew. And the internet is full of easy do-it-yourself ideas. Otherwise Han Solo would not have been nearly as cool looking as he was. We wanted to continue the family costume tradition but I decided I was stressing out too much about finding something we could all agree on (and there’s only three of us!). So Abby is going to be her favorite book character, Madeline.

      • kendrame October 25, 2017 at 7:34 pm

        Actually, we should reconsider the Adventure Time idea. I have always wanted to be Fire Princess…

      • Shara White October 25, 2017 at 11:06 pm

        Very cool!

  • Lane Robins October 25, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    Aw. great costumes!


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