Getting into the spirit



I’m not a big fan of Halloween.

Except for fall foliage, mums, kale, and pansies. Scary, oozy, kinda ugly stuff is my not favorite aesthetic. I mean I do love kids in cute costumes, so focusing on the positive…

I’m pretty good at making the best of occasions that are unavoidable.

So since Halloween is just about all kids’ favorite time of year, seems like right up there with Christmas, I figured I should just lean into it (that wasn’t even a phrase back in the day), and if I tried to make it look and feel like fun, maybe it would be.

Getting into the spirit…

For the first Halloween when my eldest was a toddler, I dressed him and my husband at the time as The Green Giant and the Little Sprout, and I was a misshapen (pregnant) carrot.

Every year we went pumpkin “picking” (squashes basically dropped in a field) where we “picked” the biggest, roundest ones, and paid ridiculous prices for the experience. We invited neighborhood kids, carved them with elaborate patterns, lit candles inside, and toasted the seeds. That part was fun.

All that Indian corn was irresistible to the squirrels.

They decimated the corn stalks tied to the railings, ate holes in the jack-o-lanterns. The ghosts hung in the trees flopped over – the inflated balloons draped with sheets kept deflating. The howling skull on top of the haystacks piled under the huge creepy oak tree looked pretty authentic and inviting to trick-or-treaters.

Inside the house kleenex ghosts were stuffed with cotton balls and tied with string hanging from light fixtures, and realistic looking black crows perched here and there. It was not pretty. I could never figure out how to make that cobweb stuff on the bushes look cobwebby – it resembled lumps of white fuzz.

Halloween costumes were created on my mom’s old Singer sewing machine – felt, beads, feathers, buttons, fringe, feathers, and fur.

As the family grew, we were able to go with themes that involved a group. For the school and town parades the boys were Revolutionary War soldiers, and the only daughter at the time was Molly Pitcher.

Adam revolutionary war soldier
This guy was 5. He’s now 44 and the dad of 3 kids.

Then there were football players and a cheerleader, with the new baby as the football. The family kept growing and we did the entire cast of Peter Pan, including the crocodile with the clock, dragging his tail on a roller skate. We were a family of Indians with war paint and full feather headdresses, and a baby papoose before I knew what cultural appropriation meant.

People who saw us marching in costume often said, “Polli you must LOVE Halloween!” 

As the years progressed the big kids started doing their own things, my main costume at home was a thrift shop long black dress, a witch hat, frizzed out white hair, striped socks, and lace up boots.

Cauldrons of soups were on the stove, and Nightmare Before Christmas or Beetlejuice were running on tv, as the kids sorted out their treats on the playroom floor. Neighborhood parents got in on the act – a dad as a giant Winnie The Pooh rang the bell with his kids – trick-or-treating for beer in his honey pot.

I love seeing that my kids have continued many of these traditions with their own kids.

Adam and fam Halloween
There he is with the wig, and his awesome wife and kids.

Adult Halloween parties sort of scare me…

If you invite us to a party I’ll be happy to come, wearing my witch costume, or a backup hippie get up (actually some of my real clothes) – and Michael has a fringed vest and round glasses. Suffice that I was scarred at a party where the host was wearing a costume of an ax murderer, and showing off his freezer of roadkill. Really.

I donated all of those amazing costumes to the local theater groups.

On Halloween Day about 8 years ago I needed to get into the spirit at the gym where I worked, and found a youth-size witch tuu-tuu that I could barely squeeze into – the last costume on the rack. That’s still my costume, with a new headband witch hat – the old one was squished flat in the bottom of a drawer.

I’ve been leading the Asbury Park Slow Roll bike ride each month since 2017, and Halloween is a fun one.

On Thursday night my trusty commuter bike was decorated with lights, the witch hat was clamped on my head (happy I found it when it flew off on the way to the ride!), and we had another super Slow Roll (minus the broom!).

Polli Halloween with bike
The only costume.

It’s been worth making Halloween feel like fun all these years. I believe almost anything can feel like fun if we make it so.


Of course I’m leading into exercise mindset. If you have a WSJ subscription I hope you’ll give it a read.

The Slow Roll was super fun. The folks on the ride really got into it, neighbors created incredible displays, and we really had a good time slowly rolling around town together.

Polli Halloween looking at decoration
Fun ride with this group of Halloween revelers!


And ONE MORE thing!

Enjoy the candy! Go ahead and have some Twix, Reeses cups. Then meet me for a workout NOT to burn calories, but because you enjoy moving your body, your muscles working, and getting strong.



Polli Halloween in front of Carousel


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