As a child, I never went trick or treating for the ‘holiday.’ My siblings and I would hand-craft costumes (that is, we would grab pillow cases, make paper masks, etc) and take turns passing out candy to trick-or-treaters. On a few occasions, our church would throw a welcome-fall party around Halloween, and everyone would dress up in costumes and go bobbing for apples and other fall-themed games and fun. I never felt resentful that we didn’t go trick-or-treating (though the poisoned candy and razor blades in apples that surfaced when I was very young made me very wary of accepting edibles from strangers, anyway.) And I never really thought about how I would handle the holiday with my children. I kind of just assumed we would do the same as my family; dress up, go to a friendly party, maybe pass out candy, and that’s it.
Enter Husband. Husband and his brother dressed up in creepy costumes, went door to door collecting candy, and even once “tricked” a house. And he always assumed his children would do the same, minus the TPing of the house. He is not a believer, as I am, so he doesn’t have the same reservations concerning the superstitious nature from which the holiday originated. I’m not as harshly against it as some, because the meaning behind the event has changed significantly, and I feel that’s a good thing, and something to be celebrated! But I certainly do not want my children playing zombie or entertaining themselves with supernatural things.
That part, at least for now, is not an issue. My three year old is terrified of everything. I took him to the store to show him the masks that might be seen this year, and even knowing they were masks didn’t help. He didn’t want me to touch them, and certainly didn’t want to hold them himself. He might take after me; I have automatonophobia, or a fear of anything that falsely represents a human being. It peaked during adolescence, but I have it mostly under control now. My son does not. Knowing this, we decided to allow the kids do dress up, but as something fun and happy. (Okay, so this year I took advantage of their excitement to dress up at all, and made Blues Brother’s costumes. But it made people laugh, and that’s all that matters. Right?) We went to a kids’ party at my mother-in-law’s workplace, and took the kids trick-or-treating with a friend at a nearby Independent Living neighborhood. Because of the stigma, nobody else goes there. Everyone who answered their door had a huge smile on their face, and the kids loved being the center of their attention!
I suppose the way I feel is this: Halloween is just one of many American celebrations that once had very dire and evil origins. With the widespread nature, I know it will be impossible to avoid it entirely. I just want my kids to view it as a day where you can be anything you want to be; a day where there are no social limits to your creativity. As with anything else, I plan to be open and honest with my children about where it came from, but press the point that, with the Father, we have the power to change things from evil and scary to happy and fun.