Real Parents On: Halloween

Boo! It's almost Halloween, you know, and as a (relatively) new mom, I was curious to find out what my other Christian mama friends thought about the spookiest of holidays. Do you dress up your kiddos and trick-or-treat around the neighborhood? Do you check out alternative celebrations like church harvest parties? Do you do nothing and hide in the dark, hoping no little ghouls and goblins ring your doorbell, or do you get all gussied up and sit with a great big bowl of full-sized M&Ms, anxiously waiting the throngs of neighborhood superheroes and zoo animals?

Last year, we decided to dress the munchkin up as a lobster. Except that the infant costume was a pretty penny. So I found a dog costume at Target that was a perfect fit.

yes, she's in a stock pot. and yes, i stole the idea from online.

Don't judge me.

She was the cutest dog-lobster ever.

This year I had deliriously grandiose visions of making her owl (and I was going to be a tree and Sean a tree-hugging hippie)...but I quickly found myself running out of time. So I decided to make her a pig and wrap her in a blanket. And I was going to dress up like a chicken wearing a big foam finger, and we were going to go as an appetizer sampler.

Get it? Huh-huh-huh.

In the end, I found a $10 monkey costume at Old Navy. Easy peasy. And I'm *still* looking for a banana costume to borrow. What can I say? I'm a sucker for the costumes.

Anyhooooo, here's what my super awesome panel of parents had to say about the whole Halloween gig. Be sure to chime in with your comments on how your family handles it. I'd love to hear from you!

Elizabeth S. says:
No Much Work + So Much Money ... But We Still Have Fun

We do “celebrate” Halloween in our family—more as an event than an actual holiday.  I have never given it a lot of thought, and it is something I continued doing out of tradition.  I do think it has gone a bit overboard though.  Between in-class parties, community parades, church events, and the actual trick-or-treating part of things, my kids get a LOT of candy and other treats.  To be honest, I scour the loot when they come home:  I separate non-food items, throw out the stuff that looks funky, pull-out the candy that my husband and I really like, separate the candy that I know my kids won’t eat, and then they have access to the rest in parent-supervised portion control.  Some candy goes to my husband’s work and some gets eaten, but in the end, most of it probably ends up in the trash.  I could limit the participation in these events, but part of me subscribes to the “I bought these costumes, we’re getting as much use as possible out of ‘em” scenario.  Which leads me into the whole costume thing.  I am a lot of things, but I am not athletic or crafty.  Unless I can glue it or staple it, I’m just not your girl.  Homemade costumes are out in my house, so we are off to the costume store.  With four kiddos, this adventure more often than not breaks our budget.  On average, we probably spend about $20 per child.  When you average in the cost of candy for the trick-or-treaters and classroom snacks (times 4 classes), Halloween gets awfully expensive.  We probably come out spending close to $200 on the “holiday”, which is probably what all the candy and costume companies are banking on.  Now that I’ve put numbers to this, I think I’m going to be ill.  I think I need some chocolate to make me feel better.  Happy Halloween!

Madison L. says:
It's a Happy Day with Candy

Growing up, I never really got to experience Halloween. My parents were super against it and so we just never participated in trick or treating. The point they were trying to convey to us, was that in other countries all over the world, little kids don't get to go trick or treat for candy and some really awful things happen to people and we weren't going to participate in any kind of way because it'd be like showing support for what Halloween was really meant for. After my mother died and my dad got remarried, my step mother slowly convinced my father to let us go trick or treating. I think we kind of share the same view on it: just because other people in the world are doing bad things, doesn't mean that we can't go out and get candy for no actual reason. For the first time of my life, at the age of 16... I went trick or treating. I also brought my 2 month old child as well! I dressed up as snow white, and he was the cutest little turtle you would have ever seen. I also let Ashton trick or treat last year and will continue to let him do so for as long as he wants... (unless he's 38 still living under my roof, and let's hope that's not the case!) As he gets older, I'll let him know of what sometimes happens in other places, and how we need to remember those people and pray for them, but we take it and make it a happy day with candy. My only thing I'm really against is all the crazy scary costumes. That is when, for me, it becomes way too similar of what is actually happening other places and I just find it so unnecessary. So, my views of Halloween aren't really all too drastic. If my kid wants to throw a sheet over his head and be a ghost, I'm gonna let him.

Melinda says:
It's All About the Sweets

Our family did NOT celebrate Halloween and we still don't technically.  However, I did convince the hubby that it was okay to go trick-or-treating two years ago.  That was the first year we got dressed up and took part of the wonderful passing out of free candy.  Because that's what I make it about the CANDY.  We don't decorate at the house, since we are out we don't pass out candy.  (besides I don't think we'd get too many people in our neighborhood.)  And finally, the kids are not permitted to dress in ways that are scary or creepy.

Jennifer T. says:
We LOVE Halloween!

I am not sure we “celebrate” it per se, but we participate.  We lived in Brighton Heights before and Halloween was like a block party only bigger.  Now that we are in Boston, our little town has a parade and the community is fairly active on Halloween night and we definitely want to be  a part of making relationships with our neighbors.  My kids plan their costumes way in advance.  Last year my son wanted to be a giant red squid.  This was how I became addicted to Dancing with the Stars.  Nights and nights of red satin, plastic bubble wrap and a hot glue gun.  My daughter was a sea horse.  This was overkill for mom and I told them this year they are on their own.  I need a year off, but I am lobbying for Thing One and Thing Two because a) it would be sooooo easy and 2) I would get to be The Cat in The Hat.

I am more than aware of the dark, yucky, side of Halloween, but for us it is about meeting our neighbors and having fun as a family.  We’ve made it clear to our kids that the scary bad costumes are really not something that we do, but other than that we keep it light and fun.

Kelly W. says:

Community Opportunity ... or Organized Chaos?

I'm just gonna cut to the chase here, friends:  I hate Halloween.  HATE.  IT.   I love fall; it's my favorite time of the year.  And Thanksgiving?  LOVE IT!  But Halloween........Halloween sucks. I know, I'm such a party-pooper.  But before you file me under "no-fun buzzkill", let me take you for a short walk on the winding road that got me here….

I'm not sure I've ever met a kid who didn't like Halloween, and I was no exception.  I planned my costumes for weeks, begged my mom to buy me props, and anxiously looked forward to walking my happy suburban development in the crisp autumn air.  We would end our walk at the home of neighborhood friends, drinking hot cider and roasting marshmallows in their fireplace.  Then my brother and I would go home and spend hours happily sorting and trading.  It was kid bliss.

As I got older, I began to see the darker side of Halloween.  The razor blade and LSD scares in the 80's,  teenage beer parties in the local cemeteries, commercialism, scare houses, slasher films.  It just ruined the childhood fun I remembered.  Since I was no longer young enough to trick-or-treat, and not old enough to be held responsible for buying candy, I just quietly avoided it all.  Until having kids of my own forced me to re-think everything….

When my first son was a toddler, I simply decided that Halloween was not for our Christian family.  I bought a book from the Christian bookstore called "Mommy, Why Don't We Celebrate Halloween" and vowed to find a suitable alternative for my kids. I explained to my very confused neighbors that "for religious reasons", we wouldn't be participating (**still slapping myself in the head for that**).  Instead, we packed up the toddler and headed down to our church's "Harvest Party" on Halloween night.  When we returned, our street was alive and active.  Neighbors were out laughing, talking, and walking together with their kids.  It was a togetherness unlike any other night of the year.  And there we were, with a dark porch……ignoring the doorbell and turning away persistent little princesses with our empty hands.

It was shortly after that when I read the article:  "Halloween:  Opportunity or Oppression".  Though I still didn't care for the premise of Halloween, we realized that as Christians we could not forsake our community on the one night of the year that everyone did something together.  At first, I wanted to just hand out candy and keep our kids out of it.  But that idea didn't fly :-)  We explained to our neighbors that we had had a change of heart and happily joined the world of Snickers and Darth Vader masks.

If only it stayed THAT easy…..

Six years ago we moved from our quiet East End pocket to what apparently is the trick-or-treat epicenter of the Northside.  Our first year we were geared up, stocked with glow bracelets, and were ready to fellowship with our new community!  We had NO IDEA what we were about to experience.  Three hours & three HUNDRED glow bracelets later, we were stunned.  No meeting new people, no casual conversations with neighbors, not even a break to run to the bathroom.  We have since survived 6 Halloweens here. (Ok, I admit we skipped town last year.  And I'm making no apologies.)  Each one gets worse than the last.

I could write an entire book on "urban trick-or-treating".  Don't get me wrong, I'm not a total jerk….  I understand kids coming from less safer neighborhoods to trick-or-treat on our street.  I understand kids whose parents cannot afford costumes.  I understand a child being so caught up in the excitement that they forget to thank me.  I even understand 15 year-olds pushing the age limit on free candy.  But what I do not understand is:  teens alerting a friend via cell phone about my goodie selections, 6 month old babies in strollers who eat candy (or so their parents say), sassy little finger-wagging girls who argue with me for not giving them TWO of something, smokers, five year olds dressed like pimps, trick-or-treating grannies complete with orthopedic shoes (I KID YOU NOT), parents shouting profanities, kids returning items back to me that they deem insufficient, people pushing each other out of the way, a line of 30 people up my sidewalk, and my neighbor having to employ someone to walk the street with garbage bags the next day.

At least where we are,  Halloween is about GREED.  What can I get and how fast can I get it?  We changed our minds years ago and decided to partake in Halloween because we wanted to be present in our community.  We wanted to build relationships.  Even with 300+ visitors a year, I still try to make it a point to make some kind of conversation with every one of them.  Maybe 1 out 10 replies, thanks, or gives eye contact in return.  The simplest of human interactions….. someone gives you something and you say 'thanks'…….is apparently not a requisite anymore.  So much for building relationships.

I know I sound bitter.  I probably am.  But I am SO over Halloween.

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