Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween: Friend or Foe? (Preschool, Elementary)

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?


  1. As a little girl I was always out trick-or-treating with my brothers and sister. So as an adult with kids I have carried on that same tradition. We do go trick-or-treating. No scary costumes allowed, no watching of scary movies and no haunted houses. I have for the most part kept them sheltered of all things evil associated with Halloween. They pretty much thought it was just a candy fest that happened once a yr. They are getting older and catching on but for the most part they don't really get into it either. I have an older child that is 13. His friends this yr were going to haunted houses or going out and watching scary movies and he wanted nothing to do with any of them. (Thank goodness!) He's looking forward to staying in and handing out the candy this yr.
    I do understand the battle within. I am looking forward to next yr most likely being our last yr of trick-or-treating. The kids have had some happy fun memories of the past few yrs.

  2. Heather I love it that your 13 year old is going to spend Halloween with you. He has a very special mom!

  3. I struggled each year as the children get older. When I was young and newly married I took an strong stand AGAINST Halloween. I felt that all those churches doing Harvest Carnivals were just trying to "Christianize" the evil Halloween. Part of me still feels that.
    When my children (who are very young) expressed an interest in dressing up I allowed it - on a different day. We had a dress up party.
    Yet, the trouble came on Halloween day. For several years, I felt prison in my own home. Keeping it as dark as possible, scolding the closed door as trick or treaters still knocked on the door demanding candy. After an evening of popcorn balls and a favorite movie I sent the girls to bed early with fans to block the sounds of giggles and children talking in the neighborhood as they tricker treated.
    Now, I have resigned myself to taking the children to those Harvest Festivals that I so vehemently spoke against (even if only to myself). Its a safe positive place for our family. I don't feel like a prisoner trying to hide from the "evil" of the world. I get to fellowship with families, celebrate joy with the children and make memories.

  4. That's a good one. I also used to be very against trick or treating. I don't want to seem wishy washy but I started seeing it differently. I don't like the idea of Halloween. I like the idea of Harvest Party. It is a lot of fun for the kids to dress up. We still don't go trick or treating. But we may do trunk or treat or other parties.

  5. Mommy of Five I felt the same way about being a "prisoner" in my own home when we stayed at home too on Halloween night! Great insight. Jamie I have to agree that my views have changed to, but I think it is mostly because I didn't want to come across to my children as punishing them or making them feel left out of all the fun.