Getting Into Halloween… And Getting It

By BRIAN MARSH

it’s the one night where we can all pretend, and everybody knows it.

costumes on the bods.

candy in the bags.

cocktails in the bellies. and on the brains.

All Hallows Eve.

over the years, both of my boys, Ian and Trevor, have enjoyed dressing up and pretending to be someone or something else.

and often, they REALLY get into it.

sometimes, they get me in on the act, too.

 The Marsh guys as the Blue Man Group

but one of the things i love most about my boys is that when it comes to things like Halloween, they not only get INTO it.

they GET it.

Trevor loved to pretend he was other people throughout his childhood. he had enough costumes and capes, masks, and makeup to fill an entire walk-in closet (which we crammed into a rubber storage bin). and daily, he would don different garb and almost literally ‘become’ one of his favourite athletes or musicians or actors or characters.

but there was something different about the way T played at ‘make believe’.

whenever i would come upon him in his latest ‘persona’, i would approach him as if he were that person.

he would be wearing his Reggie Bush USC football jersey, running around the house with his little football, faking out defenders, and scoring touchdowns. and he would always be giving running commentary simultaneously as he played.

when he would stop for a moment to breathe, i would call out to him, ‘hey, Reggie, how’s the game going?’

and with an expression more serious than Clint Eastwood staring down a villain (and not an empty chair), he would glare at me and declare, ‘DAD! it’s ME…TREVOR!’

Trevor was TOTALLY in character, pretending to be someone else.

and he was TOTALLY himself at the same time.

T GETS it.

when he was in second grade, Trevor was invited to a costume party around Halloween. the theme was ‘Hollywood’, and kids came dressed as their current favourite stars (Lindsay Lohan, Justin Timberlake, etc.).

but T had a different conception of the event, and knew exactly who he wanted to be.

so, he got all the details of his costume and makeup together (with a little help from mom). and the day of the party, he put it all on, and got into ‘character’.

that ‘character’, you ask?

‘Professor Fate’, the dastardly villain played so ingeniously by Jack Lemmon in the 1965 film, ‘The Great Race’.

you should have seen the faces as he walked up the ‘red carpet’ and into the party, completely in character.

‘WHO are you?’ his friends asked.

‘I….am PROFESSOR FATE!’ my amazingly unique boy howled in reply.

by the end of that party, not only did he win the admiration of all the parents in attendance.

he won ‘Best Costume’ at the party.

he also had every little girl there eating out of his hand.

‘Trevor’s costume was SO cool! He’s SO creative!’ they swooned.

the rest of the kids had fun pretending to be someone else for an afternoon.

T was TOTALLY in character, pretending to be someone else.

and he was TOTALLY himself at the same time.

T GETS it.

the true ‘self’ that each of us is born with is present deep within us. but then, the world we live in places its unbearable expectations of who we ‘ought’ to be upon us like the weight Atlas struggled to bear upon his shoulders. and we end up responding to that pressure like Frederick Buechner describes:

‘Our original, shimmering self gets buried so deep underneath all the other selves we create in order to survive in the world that most of us end up hardly living out of it at all. Instead, we live out all the other selves, which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world’s weather.’

this Halloween, may we all feel even a little bit more free to be fully in ‘character’ while living with character.

may we all have a blast pretending to be whoever or whatever we want to be.

and may we be more TOTALLY ourselves at the same time.

may we get INTO it.

and GET it.

Ian as Cookie Monster

Ian as ‘Cookie Monster’ (which included walking up to each door and saying ‘Trick or Treat! Happy Halloween!’ in full ‘Cookie Monster’ voice)

Trevor as a wandering eye

T as the ‘Wandering Eyeball’

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To see more of Brian’s writing, check out the Brian Marsh main page here at Make it Missoula. And for even more, check out his personal blog, Apocalypso Now.

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i’m a wanderer and a wonderer. a pastor who isn’t sure he’d attend church if he wasn’t pastoring one (and currently, i’m not), living with my unique and special family (my wife, Kirsten, and sons, Ian and Trevor) in a unique and beautiful place (Missoula, Montana). restless and lazy, usually amazed, always in process, i’m continually surprised and usually delighted at discovering the extraordinary in the ordinary, the ‘sacred’ in the ‘secular’, the shafts of light that sneak into the shrouds of darkness. i drum decently, surf poorly, love multicultural food, music, and community, and living in the‘Zoo.