My costume this year, courtesy of Queen Bey.
Halloween has never been my favourite October Holiday. I’m definitely more of a root-vegetables-and-pie kinda gal. But lbh any occasion that allows me to binge-watch movies while eating chocolate and playing dress-up is okay in my books. That said, as I get older I have found that some aspects of Halloween begin to change particularly the things I want to eat/do/wear/go home with. So here are some of the lessons I’ve learned over the years to ensure I have a great time on Halloween and don’t hate my life come November 1st.
DO’s and DONT’S of Adult Halloween
- DO watch a horror movie (or 10). One of the best parts about grown-up Halloween is that you can finally watch all the horror movies you were too scared to watch as a child. Some of my all-time favourite gory/smart/creepy/weird/feminist/moody/campy horror movies include:
- Rosemary’s Baby
- Sleepaway Camp
- Ginger Snaps
- The Craft
- Death Becomes Her
- Hocus Pocus
- DO hang out with kids at some point. This will keep you from feeling gross and empty, like the whole holiday is just a bleak excuse for adults to engage in adolescent debauchery. A tiny munchkin in an astronaut costume will cure all of that existential questioning right up for you.
- DO NOT “dress to impress”. Sexy and/or elaborate costumes are fun but they hinge on the validation of others which is a variable you can’t control. I suggest wearing a costume that’s fun, comfortable, utilizes items in your own wardrobe and doesn’t cost more than $50 to make happen. Then spend the whole night telling everyone else how great they look in their awkward pleather skirt, madonna bra and full face of MAC skull makeup.
- DO NOT go to a party that isn’t walking distance from your house. If you’re anything like me you can’t enjoy a party unless you have an easy escape plan and since cabs are impossible to find after midnight on Halloween and uber fees go through the roof…best to just stay in your hood.
- DO enjoy a few of your favourite sweet treats…Which is where I come in!
HOMEMADE MINI-SNICKERS BARS
- 12-15 medjool dates, the softer the better.
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 cup salted peanuts
- 1 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Boil a few inches of a water in a medium sized saucepan. Place chocolate chips in a metal mixing bowl and set on top of sauce pan. This DIY double-boiler will melt your chocolate but keep it from burning.
- Pit dates making sure to keep the date in one piece.
- Press 2 salted peanuts into each date then fill date with peanut butter and smoosh shut. It won’t be pretty but that’s a-okay! Continue until all dates have been filled.
- Dip dates into melted chocolate using a fork or slotted spoon. Place on a wax paper lined baking sheet. To speed the cooling process place baking sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes.
- Store in the fridge/freezer, but enjoy these treats at room temperature so that they are nice and soft when you bite into them! Enjoy.
Last night I cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner as an adult. It broke tradition in many ways. I shared the meal with my friends, not my family. No turkey was present. We ate on the floor (who has space for a dining room table?) But there as candlelight, cuddling and conversation that wasn’t about work or kids or real estate. It was the Thanksgiving I’ve been wanting to have for years.
Your friends are the people who are there for you every day. Who take care of you when you falter, which in my case is more often than I’d like. Who get your jokes and make you laugh so hard you spill your wine. Nothing against my incredibly loving and supportive family, but on this occasion it felt so good to sit with the people I share my life with, get drunk and eat pumpkin pie.
Here’s what was on my menu:
- Bourbon glazed pecan, apple and spiced chickpea salad
- Roasted carrots and brussel sprouts
- Wild rice and mushroom stuffing
- Maple Salmon
Every season has two opposing sides for me, feelings-wise.
In the wintertime I waver between self-acceptance and depression. Spring is an insufferable combination of optimism and restlessness. Summer is liberation and crippling FOMO. And fall…well fall is the season of wistful introspection and harsh self-criticism.
Questions I’m plagued with between September and November:
- Am I living up to my potential?
- Is this where I wanted to be by [insert whatever young age I am that I’m convinced is ANCIENT]?
- Should I go back to school?
- If I’m in a relationship, is it the right one?
- If I’m not in a relationship, what am I doing wrong?
- Are the dysfunctional dynamics of my family ever going to change or improve?
- Will mom make me gluten-free stuffing at Thanksgiving this year?
In an effort to help those of you who may be struggling with these and other soul-crushing questions, I thought I would share a few of the strategies I’ve developed to help survive my pumpkin-spiced feelings:
- LEAN IN.
One of my favorite ways to manage fall feelings is to completely indulge them. Get wistful af. Watch reflective seasonal movies like Hannah and her Sisters, Harold and Maude, Home for the Holidays, Stepmom (whatever I love that movie). Call an old flame. Facebook stalk your college self. It might prompt you to remember things like: being a student kind of sucked, your old friends were alcoholics, being young is fun but being old and smart is SO MUCH better, and so on. Sometimes a trip down memory lane is exactly what you need to feel confident and comfortable with where you’re at right now.
I rarely recommend travel as an emotional solution because – like drinking, binge-watching Nashville or obsessing over a new crush – your problems will still be there when you come back to reality. But sometimes hopping a plane, train or automobile is just what you need to gain perspective and self-respect during times when you are being harshly critical of yourself and your life decisions. Traveling alone often helps me remember how free and self-determining I truly am.
- PUT ON YOUR THINKING CAP.
Often fall feelings are prompted by the fact that everyone around you seems to be bettering themselves by going back to school. Whether it’s fresh-faced college kids or that girl at your work who just picked up and went to med school (!), it’s hard not to feel left behind by it all. One thing that can often make me feel better during these periods is to make a concerted effort to reengage my brain. Join a book club, listen to a science podcast, add the new yorker to your morning blog rotation. Something that leaves you feel engaged, energized and less like a strung-out netflix drone.
- TRY A NEW HOBBY.
I probably suggest this too much but trying something new is also a great way to shake off the autumn blahs. Cooking. Crafting. Painting. Climbing. Yoga-ing. Rowing. Running. Activities in general are, in my opinion, the healthiest form of emotional diversion.
- UPDATE YOUR VERBAL RESUME.
This is key, particularly as you move from autumn into the holiday season. When people ask what you are up to these days it can often trigger negative, self-deprecating responses unless you have something tangible like a new job, partner or house to talk about. So I encourage you to write down a list of all the things you do that actually make you happy right now and when people ask you what you’ve been up to, be honest. Some examples I’ve used in the past: “I started painting,” “I’ve been hanging out with my awesome niece and she’s the best,” “I’ve been really good at balancing work and friendships lately,” “I just wrote a really elaborate grant proposal,” etc. I know it’s dorky, but when you take the time to tell your story in an authentic way, you take control over a conversation that might have otherwise left you feeling bad about yourself.