Spooky Frights or Sweet Nostalgia?
By Sophia Correderas
I hate horror movies. Though, that might be a little unfair of me to say, as the closest thing I have watched to a horror movie is Coraline. I have never understood why people willingly put themselves through demented dolls, murderous ghosts, and continuous jump-scares. I am embarrassed to admit that I have even been scared by my own legs brushing against one another (I thought it was a dog- which I am also scared of). Safe to say, I am quite jumpy without any paranormal activity or serial killers added to the mix.
Given my jumpy behavior, you would think I would absolutely hate Halloween, which is literally a day dedicated to inspiring fear and dressing up as all things creepy. In other words, it’s horror movies on steroids. Thankfully, my parents realized early on that they raised an anxious child and kept me away from anything even remotely scary. They ensured Halloween wasn’t associated with fear, but rather unbridled happiness. It was a holiday filled with the excitement of getting ready with my family, the eagerness to get more and more candy, and the nostalgia that I now have for it as I spend my Halloweens away from home.
On my nightstand, I have a picture of when I was about five years old on Halloween. Younger me is decked out in black cat ears and a pink onesie (I know you have dressed up as a cat too, don’t judge). She has one of those big, toothy grins as she anticipates the thrill that awaits her. Her hair is a ball of frizz from what I assume was a whole lot of running around. She had spent the whole day watching Monstober on Disney, and she was ready to experience her own Halloween fun, the classic tradition of trick-or-treating.
My family and I went to the same street every year and, embarrassingly, I can’t for the life of me tell you the name of it, what colors the houses were, or even what kind of plants they had on their front laws. I could, however, describe in extreme detail the house with the most creative decor from when I dressed up as a cowgirl. That year, I walked that same street with my cousin, making many laps up and down that unnamed street to repeat the houses that gave out the most candy. It was my most successful year to date, and I will never forget the life-sized animatronics that guarded the house, or how “Monster Mash” boomed through the speakers.
Honestly, I'm almost glad I can’t tell you the name of the street I trick-or-treated on, as it cements the holiday’s mythical and special nature. It wasn’t just another street decked out in skeletons and rotted pumpkins. When I was in elementary school, it was a portal into a world set apart from the horror that dominated the day. I could go up to random strangers and ask them for candy. I could run around feeling absolutely awesome in my Monster High costume. I could be awake way past my 9:00 P.M. curfew, fueled by sugar and curiosity about which house I had yet to explore. Then as the night ended (or when my parents got too tired of chasing after me), we went back home, and that happy paradise was masked among the maze of other streets in my neighborhood. That world may be hidden to me now, but it will forever be memorialized with the smiling picture on my nightstand.
Often, Halloween is associated with horror, fear, and creepy creatures crawling through the night. For me, it was the time I felt bold and courageous, as I strutted down the streets in my silly costumes. Armed with my trick-or-treat bucket along with great company, those Halloween nights are remembered for the never-ending smiles, the childish giggles, and admiration of all the spooky decorations. Those dark, scary, artificially cobwebbed streets laid the very essence of the bliss of my childhood. That pure, lighthearted joy that consumed my heart was what Halloween was about.
I haven’t trick-or-treated in years, but now as I spend so much time away from my family, I can’t help but reminisce, especially during the weeks leading up to Halloween, on the nights that I spent walking the streets with my mom, dad, and whomever I took as my partner-in-crime, creating terrific memories. While it may seem ironic, Halloween will always be associated with childhood innocence and the smile that lit up my face similar to how a candle lights up a jack-o’-lantern.
I could definitely make an effort to get over my my fear of horror movies. Maybe I could grow to like a horror movie. Maybe I could start by just watching one. Now that I am older and won’t believe that the monsters in horror movies are hiding under my bed, it might be time to give it a shot. But, I don’t think I want to. I want to hold onto that childlike euphoria that made Halloween so spine-chillingly exciting.