My husband has accused me of being a Halloween scrooge, but I think it’s only because we have an overwhelming number of children in our neighborhood, and not all of them are polite about the Halloween candy we give out. Some grab as much candy as they can from our bowls, some of the older ones show up in no costume and still expect candy, and others show up before the sun has even thought about setting. Isn’t there some rule against trick-or-treating before dark?
So yes, I can get a bit grumpy this time of year. But I also love seeing the costumes and the gleeful looks on the kids’ faces as they come up to our porch. I especially look forward to seeing the children I know best and see day-to-day, because they’re usually so sweet and a little shy in their costumes. It’s nice to see the parents out strolling around with their children, and Halloween gives my husband and me a chance to at least wave to neighbors we don’t see all that often or know all that well. Plus, Halloween is one of those occasions when Facebook is more fun than usual for me, because I get to see costumes of far-flung friends and their children.
I was talking with a friend earlier today about Halloween. She’s a mom of four, and when they all lived at home, the family would decide on a theme each year and figure out how each one would dress to match the theme. They enjoy witches’ brew each Halloween (aka beef stew), and that’s a tradition that hasn’t gone away even though they’re mostly too old for trick-or-treating. She made Halloween creative and fun for the whole family, and even though they’re growing up, they still think of Halloween as time for family fun.
I loved Halloween when I was little. One neighbor rigged up lights and noises to pretend there was a scary troll living under the bridge to his house. Our immediate neighbors made homemade goodies and pretended that they didn’t recognize me, though I was the only red-headed kid anywhere nearby. Another invited the neighborhood kids over for apple bobbing and other Halloween fun. There was usually a carnival at school with a costume contest. My dad would carve a jack-o-lantern for us. My very creative mom made costumes for my brother and me.
I remember the best one she ever made. I had fallen in love with Greek Mythology and wanted to dress up as Athena. I wore draped white and purple cloth for my robe, and I’m sure I had a spear of some sort. But the pièce de résistance was the helmet my mom made for me. She made the most magnificent Greek war helmet out of cardboard and aluminum foil, and used red, shiny wrapping paper over foam rubber for the crest. It was the one year I won a costume prize at the school carnival.
So I try to remember my little girl self at Halloween when I start getting a little too scrooge-like and think about turning off all the lights and bypassing the candy aisles this time of year. Halloween was a time of simple delights, and I hope it’s that way for many of the children who will celebrate it tomorrow.
There are plenty of reasons that celebrating Halloween may not be for you.
I don’t remember when my church shifted away from having a Halloween party to having a harvest festival. Now, I don’t think there’s even a fall festival there. I have good friends who don’t celebrate Halloween with their own young children for religious reasons, and I can respect that. I have read recent posts about why some of my blogging peers refuse to celebrate it, and I respect their decision.
There’s a growing argument against Halloween’s popular chocolate candy bars, because of the child labor that is rife in the chocolate industry. This issue is the most difficult for me to even write about, because I simply don’t know enough about it and feel ill-equipped to argue about it. And maybe that makes me a Halloween ostrich, sticking my head in the sand so I can hand out relatively inexpensive candy bars the kids prefer instead of smarties or other non-chocolate candies.
I also hate the scary movies and the evil or gory images that abound this time of year (that’s really a year-round loathing for me). But I don’t think I’m going to stop celebrating the good and joyful part of Halloween any time soon. I simply haven’t come across a compelling enough argument against celebrating it.
And so as long as the children don’t get too grabby when we hold out the bowl for them to choose a few favorites, and as long as most of the trick-or-treaters wear costumes, I’m willing to play along and help make All Hallow’s Eve fun for them all.
What about you? Do you celebrate Halloween? Why or why not? Do you have a favorite Halloween memory or costume or tradition with your family and friends? I’d love to hear from you on this eve of Halloween.