30 years ago, Halloween was one of the highest points of a child’s year. Right up there with Christmas morning, Easter egg hunts, and birthday parties. The excitement of picking out a costume, the thrill of running around the neighbourhood with siblings and friends, collecting obscene amounts of treats, and the days – even weeks – worth of candy, chocolate, and chips to enjoy. I remember being Pippi Longstocking, a parrot, and a rabbit. My mother was the kind of person who would allow us to choose whatever costume we could think of, then she’d make it come to life during the weeks leading up to Halloween. That’s a tradition I’ve enjoyed carrying on with my own children.
These days, it seems things aren’t so cut and dry. More and more people are forgoing the tradition of door-to-door treat gathering, choosing instead to have All Saints parties, trunk-or-treat parties, or just skipping the night all together.
I’m not sure exactly when or how things got so complicated, but they have. There are issues with food allergies and sensitivities that prevent children from being able to eat any of their Halloween spoils. There are fears that a holiday of Christian origins has been taken over by too much darkness and gore. There is a general mistrust of what some kids (perhaps with eggs and TP in their backpacks) might be up to on October 31st.
Frankly, I understand all of the concerns. We try to shelter our children from many things, including a lot of the spookiness that goes along with Halloween. We don’t eat wheat and we try to limit refined sugar, so treat-consumption is somewhat challenging as well. But when it comes down to it, the decision we’ve made is based on one major point: trick or treating is just so much fun.
It’s simply kind of magical. It’s one of those nights when kids can really just be kids. It’s crazy, being allowed to accept candy from strangers. It’s uninhibited. It’s playful. We steer our kids away from houses that are decorated to look creepy or ghoulish, and stick to ones with friendly jack-o-lanterns. We certainly don’t allow costumes that are in any way dark or gory, but stick to ones that are fun and imaginative. (Last year we had a farmer, a bunny, and a carrot.) Tonight I think my kids were only out for about 35 minutes before they’d filled their (small) bags and had all the excitement they could handle. It was more than enough! (Really, more than enough. In fact just a few days ago Princess threw out the remains of last year’s Halloween haul.)
The bottom line is this: I completely respect whatever decision people make for their own families, whether it’s similar to ours or completely the opposite. Send your kids out! Keep them home! Have a party! Whatever fits within your comfort zone is what is right for your family. Our decision may evolve over the years if our needs or circumstances change, but for now Halloween is all treat.