Growing up, everyone I knew always said Christmas was their favorite holiday. When the question came around to me, I'd duck my head and mutter, "Halloween." It wasn't that I was ashamed, but at the time being the odd man out sucked.
Interestingly enough, the favorite thing never changed. I dressed up and went out most years during college (I think I was working the last year :( ), and when word got to me that teachers and students regularly dressed up at the high school I taught at I was all in. (Turned out that last one was a practical joke played on me, but a lot of the kids loved that I dressed up, so raspberries on my fellow science teacher.) Then I had my son, and it was like this whole other world of Halloween awesome.
I actually broke out the sewing machine.
I carved pumpkins for the first time in years and I took him trick-or-treating and to Boo at the Zoo, and all sorts of things. Maybe I didn't dress up anymore, but that didn't change the happiness that lit up my world every Halloween. Then my daughter came along and I got to add fairies and princesses to the mix. It was like a world of awesomeness in two little packages.
Now my kids are starting to grow up. My son is more or less making his own costume this year--doing the teen thing where he throws something together and adds make-up. I don't think my daughter is far behind. But so far, they are still more than willing to accept my help, which means I still get to play. One of these years, I might even dress up with them. Maybe.
It's funny, but I've learned that I prefer to give this time to them for playing. I get to do the costume thing at conventions and embrace my inner Halloween lover, but these days for me the magic is in my kids becoming someone "new" for a day. There are no princesses or dinosaurs this time around to reflect how they see themselves. Nope. The Boy is going as an alien (very reflective of his concerns about middle school next year), and Mini-Me is going as one of her favorite Monster High characters (the headstrong one... go figure).
And there's the magic. Whether they realize it or not, when they choose their costumes for Halloween, they're choosing which part of themselves to emphasize to the world. It's a big screaming sign that says "Here I am! Take it or leave it!" There aren't many moments in life where that's an acceptable practice.
But on Halloween it is, and that's why it will always be my favorite holiday.