Ghosts of Birthdays Past 


Halloween celebrations.  




Like most people I know, my birthday is in October. I’ve always loved having a fall birthday. It falls right in the middle of the the time between summer and Christmas, so it’s something to look forward to in the middle of a long stretch of work and being busy. It’s on a long weekend, so there’s usually an extra day off. The leaves are changing, the weather is nice, and the possibilities for celebration are endless. 

Growing up, I celebrated my birthday with Halloween. Because I am born in the first half of October, some might argue that this is cuspy. However, I like Halloween and so had my fair share of birthday parties around the holiday. 

My family loves Halloween decorations. Everywhere you look there is a fake rat poking its nose out or a bat hanging from the ceiling or a life-sized witch lurking around the corner. That particular decoration made me jump every single time I saw it. Fake cobwebs were draped on the furniture and the grandfather clock in the corner of the living room, a black cat rug stretched in front of the kitchen sink. Dad was in charge of the fog machine, spooky lights, and ghoulish sounds that terrified my friends as they walked to the front door. We were experts in Halloween festivity. 

I remember setting up brown paper bags filled with “eyeballs,” “brains,” and “finger bones” and watching as my friends in their witch costumes and candy-corn outfits squealed and scrunched up their faces at the gross, unknown feeling on their fingertips. In the background my Spooky Sounds CD provided incentive for the dancing crew. Classics like “Rock the Kasbah,” “Love Shack,” “Werewolves of London,” and “Thriller” got our thirteen-year-old selves jumping around. One year we even decided to show a scary movie: Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Why we decided to do this I do not know as I am, to this day, terrified of scary movies. I have a clear memory of watching as a cloud of birds took flight to reveal a destroyed corpse with its eye sockets empty. 

Now when October rolls around my birthday comes with fun celebration with friends on the day of and Halloween looms in the distance as a weekend filled with parties and last-minute costume prep. Growing up I’d spend weeks planning my costume. (See below for the fabulous Professor Trelawney impersonation of 2008 with Hermione Granger completing the partner costume. We are still friends.) 

Courtesy of Kelsey O’Connor ’18.

Lately my Halloween costumes have been briefly planned. A witch hat in the closet? Perfect. Amazon Prime can have cat ears at my door in 24 hours? Great. Minnie Mouse headband lying around at home? Costume done. I am always impressed by the clever costumes I see on Halloweekend. One of the more notable ones was someone dressed as a box of Franzia complete with an active and functional tap! It seemed like the excitement of planning costumes was in the past; like the spookiness and anticipation of Halloween had given way to dorm parties and a loud base that had a little extra excitement provided by the costumes. Fun of course, but I was missing the extra-special festivity and tradition in which my birthday had allowed me to indulge.  

This year I bought some mini-pumpkins to put around my room and there is a giant (giant) bowl of Halloween candy on the table ready to rot my teeth. I planned my Halloween costume in a fortuitous act of spontaneity earlier this fall. And when I get ready for the unmatched and infamous Halloweekend I’ll be turning on the Monster Mash. 

Kelsey O’Connor ( will be handing out candy on Halloween to any nostalgic trick-or-treaters because adulthood shouldn’t take that away from us!