Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. It is the one time of the year when it is acceptable — even encouraged — to be whoever, or whatever, you want to be — to pretend, to take chances, to wear gaudy lipstick.

Growing up, crafting costumes and living as someone else for a night was something I looked forward to the entire year — far more than the punch-you-in-your-pancreas sugar overdose, though who doesn’t prefer their apples covered in a gravy of melted sugar and butter, the way God intended. As an adult (or at least as “adult” as I ever plan on getting), so much of my time and work is focused on helping people understand identity.

The irony is not lost on me.

Combining my childhood love of pretending to be someone else with my adulthood love of exploring identity, I wonder how Halloween might look through different eyes, and how you might explain those different impressions of Halloween to someone who has never heard of it.

(I’d love for you to share your versions of “Halloween, through  ___ eyes”  in the comments below!)

Halloween, through child eyes

You have to put on a costume, because Halloween. But you can be whatever you want. I’m going to be a devil, but not a mean one. A nice one, because devils can be nice, too. Tonight, Mom will take us to all the houses in our neighborhood and we’ll say “trickertreet!” and then they’ll give us candy. If they don’t have candy, Mom will do that smile like the Grinch who stole Christmas, but then it goes away. Once our pillowcases are full of candy, Halloween is complete and we’ll go home and Mom will tell me not to eat too much or I’ll get sick but then I’ll eat too much and get sick, because Halloween.

Halloween, through teenage eyes

Ugh.

Halloween, through college eyes

Halloween is where you go to parties and try to do sex with people, but you wear costumes, but I mean you don’t wear them while doing it — that’s weird. Actually, now that I think about it —

Halloween, through young adult hipster eyes

Of course we are celebrating Halloween this year. Skyler is going as an ironically sexy Ted Cruz and she’s going to “Shut Your Government Down” (get it?) and I’m going as Climate Change, but I’m just going to wear normal clothes so then people will be all “You’re dressed as climate change? I don’t get it” ’cause NO THEY DON’T GET IT THEY ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM MAN.

Halloween, through parent eyes

Tonight, I will take my daughter to all the houses in our neighborhood and she’ll say “trickertreet!” and not realize she’s actually saying “Trick or Treat,” which, when I was a kid, was an actual ultimatum — I mean, we used to bring this neighborhood to its knees. Then they’ll give her candy. Once her pillowcase is full of candy, we’ll go home and I’ll remind her not to eat too much candy or she’ll get sick then she’ll eat too much candy and get sick, because Halloween.

Halloween, through Tim Burton’s eyes

Yesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesohgodyes.

Halloween, through pumpkin eyes

Nononononononononononononononononononononononononononononononononononononononononononononononononononononoohgodno.

Halloween, through social justice advocate eyes

Halloween is the 10 or so days of the year that I find myself relying on the bookmark folder I made with links to things like “The History of Blackface in America” and “The difference between a cultural costume and being an intentionally offensive asshole” and cross my fingers that this year will finally be different. Damnit — the first weekend of costumes happened and it looks like nobody learned anything from the one week of intensive blog-post shaming of racist costumes last year. Time to hop on Twitter and set things straight.

Halloween, through a racist person’s eyes

Yesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesblackfaceyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesterroristyesyesyesyesyesyesyesmexicanyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesohgodyes.

Halloween, through the Gaelic Samhain’s eyes

Y’all are doing what now?

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Here’s the full image that I used for the header to this post. It’s a doodle I made Halloween 2012 for a friend. You can click it for full resolution, and feel free to share it.

Jack o Lantern by Sam Killermann