On Having a Halloween Birthday


My son was born on Halloween.  Here he is at one — just as joyful and rambunctious as he is today. Only now, he’s 17.

You’d think that having your birthday on Halloween would be really cool. And, for 364 days of the year, it is. When anyone finds out it’s your birthday, they light up with a smile. Who doesn’t love Halloween, right?

But, on the actual holiday, it’s not always so great. On October 31, Halloween belongs to everyone –  that wild-and-crazy, carefree spotlight no longer shines just on you. In reality, it’s not what you’d call a hardship; after all, there are parties, a break on the homework, and gobs and gobs of candy.

But, the Halloween-of-it-all tends to bury the birthday moment.  Making it a tough day to try and grab a little spotlight.

Perhaps trying to celebrate on Halloween is not the absolute stinker that having your birthday on Christmas must be. Around this time of year, I hear a lot of holiday/birthday stories, and one guy told me that he had a childhood friend who was born on Christmas and his mother knocked herself out to make December 25 pale in comparison. As in, she always threw a party in their basement late in the day on Christmas, when family parties were over and presents were exhausted. Now, this story made me feel lousy. Perhaps that mother loved her son more than I love mine? How come I didn’t go out of MY way to make a better/different party on Halloween in such an exaggerated fashion that my son’s friends would still be talking about it in thirty years?

Moment of truth: I’ve never been the type to go crazy decorating the house for Halloween, though when my son was in middle-school, I had my share of dead pirates and ghouls hanging from the trees.  But, I couldn’t possibly throw a party that could compete with the no-budget showy extravaganzas that kids get invited to these days. So, I could have a guilty-mother moment, except that I am not sure anyone could counter-program Halloween like that mother did with Christmas. In fact, I would make the case that now, in 2012, Halloween has surpassed all other holidays in importance…. (Sorry, Santa). 

  • First, you get to dress up as someone else. Someone braver, funnier, more glamorous and, in recent years, much more slutty than you are yourself.
  • Second, Halloween isn’t about anything except FUN and MAKE BELIEVE. What beats that?!
  • And third – did I mention there is candy involved…?

If your birthday falls on or around Memorial Day or the Fourth of July or Labor Day, or even Thanksgiving, there will always be a long weekend over which to plan a party. My mom and first cousin were both born on Valentine’s Day so I can assure you that you can never ever have a crappy Valentine’s Day if you have the chance to get to blow out a few candles. (And the chances that you’ll receive chocolate as a gift are high).

October 31 is such a happy, no-guilt, cut-loose and fun day on it’s own, it’s a shame not to just enjoy it for what it is, and not feel gypped.  As I’m writing, I’ve probably opened the door 40 times to gangs of gleeful kids, and every single one of them was completely ga-ga for candy.  We live near UCLA and as the night goes on, it’s only college kids that ring the bell. It seems that the odd opportunity to knock on a door and have a stranger give you candy just doesn’t get old.

Nor does the quest for the clever costume: here are two neat, low-tech costumes that caught my eye. A boy with a sign on his chest that said “Go, Ceiling!” (He was a ceiling fan), and girl with a sign that said LIFE on her shirt who gave me a lemon from a bag that said LEMONADE. An homage to the phrase “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade…”.

So, when life gives you Halloween as a birthday, revel in the moment. Put the Birthday on hold. This year, my boy is out “trick-or-treating” with a bunch of friends, which really only means they’re chasing after the girls in their tiny costumes and enjoying a rare weekday night off. We can celebrate his birthday properly on another night, one of the 364 other nights when being the “Halloween baby” is pretty darn great.