Do I have to wear a costume?
Well, in a word, no.
But a curious thing happens when grown-ups do. We begin to see better.
We might see tiaras in a strip of lace and fairy wings in a pair of windshield shades. We see hazy sketches of possibility between dreaming and waking—muted colors and tattered textures, and in the distance, a rabbit to chase.
We see a date on the calendar that candy stores, card companies and flower shops have commandeered. We resolve to shape that date into an occasion that means something to us again.
We see the same familiar faces we see all year, but now we notice Tinkerbell's flit in their gait, the shadow of Pan, the glint of Hook's grin.
When new friends-to-be join us in costume, what do they see? Not accountants and attorneys, dentists and drivers, not teachers or therapists or clerics or clerks. They see who we are, how alike we are. We all sprouted from children.
So while wearing a costume is never required, I highly recommend playing along. It can be simple. If it's a woodland theme, wear a leaf pin or a sprig of fern and moss. Poodle or paisley for the sock hop and seventies dance, respectively. Paw prints and a long string of beads for the safari and the roaring 20s dances.
"But I'm just not interested in going ballroom dancing with people dressed as hobbits, leprechauns, gnomes, trees, hobos or other crazy stuff."
Stay home, then. Get well. We love you, but we don't want to catch what you have.