In Defense of Those Who 'Go Dark' on Halloween


Every year on Halloween, trick-or-treaters walk by “those” houses. The ones with all the lights off, save for maybe one. There are no decorations. No bowl of candy with a sign inviting kids to “please take one.” Everyone in the neighborhood can tell there’s someone home who doesn’t want to answer the door.

“What gives?” people might ask. “It’s Halloween. Couldn’t you just give the kids some candy? It’s not that hard. What a Scrooge.”

What they don’t know is that for you, that person who has decided to buck tradition and “go dark,” that choice is about a whole lot more than “those darn kids!”

Maybe you have a disability that makes it difficult to get up and answer the door every few minutes.

Maybe you’re struggling with PTSD, and the sound of the doorbell sends your adrenaline soaring.

Maybe your child has sensory challenges, and she’s happier having a quiet night in watching her favorite movie.

Maybe you live with anxiety, and the thought of making small talk with the strangers fills you with dread.

Maybe you’re a childhood abuse survivor, and skipping Halloween is better for your mental health.

Maybe you’re having a flare and your biggest priority right now is getting as much sleep as you can.

Every time someone asks, “So what are you doing for Halloween?” and you don’t have an answer that involves partying, ripping open bags of candy with your friends or even leaving the house, it can leave you with that sinking feeling that goes all the way down to your toes. The pressure to “do something” for Halloween can be overwhelming. But what if we embraced the idea of a self-care Halloween? What if we said, “Heck yeah, I’m turning off my lights and knitting while watching ‘Friends’ reruns,” and embraced the decision to do exactly what our health requires.

You are entitled to skip Halloween, to put yourself first and go dark. It’s OK to “skip” a holiday because it’s the best decision for your health. Though the greeting card aisle and abundance of pumpkins at your local grocery store might try to convince you otherwise, there’s no rule that says you must celebrate Halloween. And there’s no guarantee that if you do participate in the “expected” activities, like trick-or-treating or attending costume parties, that you’ll be happier than if you stayed in — as everyone who’s ever walked into a party and immediately wished they were at home in their pajamas knows all too well. 

It’s OK to make new Halloween traditions for yourself this year. Get comfy with your go-to scary movie. Or hey, any movie at all. Order in from that new takeout place you’ve been meaning to try. Blast the music you save for a rough day and break out your coloring books. Whatever you’re doing on Halloween, we got you.

And if you are trick-or-treating or going to a party this year, and you pass by a dark house, try not to judge the person inside. Extend the same kindness to them that they are extending to themselves by taking care of their health, despite the pumpkins, candy and trick-or-treaters that surround them. That takes a lot of courage.

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Thinkstock photo by Sakkawokkie


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