By Kimberly Zapata
For as long as I can recall, Halloween has been my favorite holiday. I remember the trash bag-like feel of vinyl costumes and the cheap plasticky smell of drugstore masks. I remember lugging one of those plastic orange pumpkins in the crook of my arm, and I remember the mark it would leave — a small, linear, and chasm-like dent— as the weight of Goobers, Mr. Goodbars, Hershey bars, peanut butter cups, and pennies (ugh, pennies) dug its cheap handle into my skin. And I remember the day after “hangover:” a day when every child seeks to stave off the sugar crash by eating more sugar. (My mom never let me have sugar for breakfast but be damn sure I asked. Be damn sure I tried.)
And even today, 32 years later, my love for the holiday hasn’t waned because every year has had something special to offer, i.e. during my teen years Halloween was about house parties and high school dances. In my twenties, Halloween was about bar crawls, binge drinking, and couples costumes, and now — in my thirties — Halloween is about her: Halloween is all about crafting and creating special memories for my daughter. And my little Nibbler turned Princess Bubblegum turned Captain Phasma has had some great ones already.
But I already wonder: how long it will last? How long will she let me make her costumes or take her door-to-door? How long will enjoy simple things, like candy and pumpkin picking? Like late night cups of cider and snuggles, during our annual Nightmare Before Christmas screening? How long before she turns to us and asks to ring doorbells alone? Before we “become lame” and the whole damn day becomes lame? How long before she decides she doesn’t want to trick-or-treat at all? Before she says “I don’t want to go out this year?”
Of course, it seems silly to lament something that is so far away. My daughter turned three in July, and she still has years of childish innocence ahead of her. But is it really that far off? I thought the sleepless nights would last forever, and they didn’t. I thought breastfeeding would last forever, and it didn’t. And I thought my daughter would be far older before she told me “no,” before she said “go away” and “just leave me alone” but we’ve already crossed that bridge.
I can see her pulling away each and every day.
I want to keep her here, young and shielded from the world forever. I want to keep her here, in a time when her biggest life decisions are what book she wants to read and whether she wants to dance in kitchen or make a fort under the living room table.
I want to keep her here, in a world where dressing up is encouraged and make-believe is a-OK.
I want to keep her here, in a world where it is totally normal to wear a construction hat and tutu. Where no one questions the mud in her hair or her shoeless feet. And I want to keep her here so she can make the same happy and simple memories I was able to. The same happy and simple memories I am still making.
But I can’t. Not now. Not ever.
All I can do is make these moments matter. All I can do is hope these memories matter. All I can do is enjoy this year.
This Halloween night.
So when we set out, sweet one, enjoy yourself and know that when you run from door-to-door, I will run beside you. When your bag is too full, of candy and apples and temporary tattoos, I will hold it for you. And when you are too tired — when you have climbed too many steps and walked too far from home — I will carry you.
On my back, on my shoulders, or in my arms: I will carry you.