It was a cool October night. I could smell a strange mixture of plastic, latex, and paint. It was very difficult to see anything but what was straight in front of me. I was walking from the car across a yard when suddenly I was falling. My arms flailed wildly in the air as I tried to grasp at anything as I descended down. Then I struck. I felt the rock dig into the thigh and felt the warm sticky blood through my jeans. And that is my only memory of my first and last time trick or treating at the age of 12. My parents had never celebrated Halloween before. We would just watch longingly as they would pass out candy to all of the neighbors, while we played at home. Then along came my little brothers ten years later and we suddenly started trick or treating. Which explains why I was having this cultural experience on the eve of my teenage years.
For some parents, Halloween is just another holiday to celebrate, but for others, it is a time to stand against the tide for what you believe. I will have to admit that I have struggled in this arena. While I believe that the roots of Halloween are nothing that I want my children to be part of, what happens for most is just innocent fun. Other years, we have stayed home and passed out candy because we want to connect with our neighbors, but that sends such a strange message to our kids. And other years, we have used the escape method. We leave and take the kids to McDonalds or Chuck E Cheese and bribe them into thinking they are having just as much fun as the dressed up kids getting all of the candy. I will have to admit that this method only works with very young children. The older ones see right through the sham.
In recent years I have chosen to take the best of both and end up taking my children to a “Harvest Festival” at a local church where they can get all of the sugar they want after paying me my nonnegotiable fee of chocolate. I don’t have to worry that some stranger will take them and they are usually not exposed to a nightmare inducing costume.
How does your family handle Halloween? What ideas have worked for you?