The first official day of fall for everyone else meant finally breaking out those hoodies from the backs of closets and picking up pumpkin spice lattes. For our family, fall was always the green light to start planning our annual family Halloween costume.

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Every year, we’d brainstorm about things the kids were really into that year and see how we could make it work as costumes for all of us. The difficulty level increased once we got to be a family of five. Often, the costumes they’d choose were more on the creative or obscure side and weren’t ones you’d find in the stores. But Goodwill hunting and DIYing were always part of the fun. Our dining room table would be a mess with costume components until we’d make our first appearance.

It was one of the best parts of our year. 

Until this year. 

When that calendar turned over, I expected the normal gathering of minds at our kitchen table. I already had some ideas written down and was ready to make my pitch. But it was eerily quiet. Feeling forgotten, I made my way to each of my kids’ rooms. “Hello?” I crept down the hall. I peeked around the corners and found each one in their respective room. I asked each of them several times (on account of the headphones they begrudgingly had to take off to hear my question) and each one delivered the same awful truth I’d been dreading. They didn’t want to do a family costume this year. In fact, they didn’t even know if they wanted to dress up at all or pass out candy. Shriek!

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I stumbled backward out of the doorway in true horror movie fashion. I felt like I’d just taken a big, fake dagger covered in corn syrup blood right to my heart. Oh, the pain! 

I knew this day would come—or at least people told me it would.

I’d hoped we had developed an unbreakable tradition over the years that was immune to age. I foolishly believed it was always going to be a cool thing to do. I should have seen the clues leading up to this moment, but I didn’t want to admit that Halloween is something kids can grow out of. The scary realization of having big kids spent a chill down my spine.

I staggered my wounded mama ego down the hall. Then, there was a sound of footsteps behind me. I turned around and there I was face to face with my oldest child, the origin of this entire ritual so many years ago. Perhaps he had realized, even amidst the cloud of his teenage brooding, how awesome it would be to dress up as a character in this year’s theme and save me from the sad fate of being a bystander every Halloween from here on out. I expected a lengthy confession about how he had seen the error of his ways. Instead, he delivered me the final kill shot: he asked if he could go to his friend’s house for Halloween instead of hanging out with us.

I was a goner. 

RIP family costumes. We had a good run, didn’t we? Maybe we’ll meet again in the sequel down the line when they dress up with their own kids. I can make a reappearance as the fun grandma who plays into their theme. 

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Nickey J Dunn

I'm a full-time wife, mom of three, employee, OCD Irish Aries. I'm originally from the Pacific Northwest, now living in Phoenix. I'm passionate about my family, writing, and writing about my family. Mental health, anti-bullying, and body-positive advocate. 

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