Danecdotes: On Halloween, my childhood is still alive
We have finally reached Halloween, the one day a year where everything we teach our kids - be home before dark, don’t take candy from strangers, etc. - sort of goes out the window and we are all weirdly OK with that.
Joking aside, Halloween is a lot of fun, and it is oddly almost as fun as a spectator as it is when you are actively participating in some way.
One of the more enjoyable things we as journalists get to do this time of year is take photos at various local trick-or-treating events, and one thing I’ve noticed over the past few years is that most of the kids’ costumes are immediately recognizable for me - not because I’m really in tune with what kids enjoy in 2019, but rather because many of the popular characters today are deeply rooted in the things that were popular when I was their age, or even before I was born.
This Halloween, my son is dressing like Woody from “Toy Story.” I know the most recent movie in that franchise is maybe five months old, but Woody is still a character that first rose to prominence when I was 7 years old.
My wife and I debated dressing him up like ewok - the weird little bear-like creatures from “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi,” which is a movie from 1983. I know "Star Wars" movies are a fairly regular occurrence now, but ewoks show up only in that 1983 movie, yet that remains a very popular costume for young children.
However, my son sort of picked his own costume. When he saw it, he shouted “Woody!” (Technically, he said “Woo-wee” but that’s really not bad for an 18-month-old.)
Maybe the reason for this phenomenon is that the things from our childhood just have more staying power than I would have thought.
Think about it.
Superhero movies have been the biggest thing in pop culture this entire decade, and many of those characters were created in the '60s and '70s - some of them significantly earlier than that - and were further popularized in cartoons during the '80s and '90s. Nowadays, they make up a large number of costumes on Main Street.
For girls, I feel like Disney princesses are a very common sight, and the vast majority of those princesses - aside from Elsa from “Frozen - were created decades ago.
It makes me wonder: Does “They don’t make ‘em like they used to” also apply to pop culture? Are the prominent aspects of our youth that much better than more recent things?
On the other hand, maybe it isn’t so much that the pop culture of yesteryear is any better, but rather that we as adults like what is old and comfortable, and we just may thrust those things onto our kids before they can really make decisions.
A few times a year, I see kids dressed as something from the good old days - like one of the kids from “The Rugrats” or something like that - and I immediately think to myself, “There is no way that kid knows who that is. Clearly that kid’s parents are (insert '80s or '90s thing here) fans.”
I am not necessarily knocking any parents for adhering to this practice. If my wife gave the all-clear, I would not hesitate for a moment to dress my kid up as a Monty Python character, even though I am one of maybe a dozen people in the lakes area who would get a kick out of that and my son is not one of the other ones.
No matter what you do or how your kid dresses, make sure you and yours have a safe and fun All Hallows Eve. Have a rough idea of where your kids will be and make sure they are visible.