As our children get older, we miss some of the fun “little kid” things we used to do with them: visiting the Please Touch Museum, cruising the aisles at Toys R Us in search of the latest action figure/Barbie doll/Lego kit, decorating the house for Halloween…
Well, scratch that last one. Even though our kids are almost grown, we’re still excited about buying candy, hanging scary decorations and carving pumpkins for Halloween. An informal survey of our FWCAK (friends with college-age kids) revealed that many of us are still celebrating the pagan ritual of free candy. We’re digging out the flying witches and glow-in-the-dark skeletons from the attic, buying and carving pumpkins to line our walks and getting ready to dress up in costumes to answer the door.
Of course, like any survey, there was a small group of outliers whose celebration was limited to purchasing one bag of fun-size Skittles because “we never get any more than eight kids knocking on the door.” We put these people in the same category as those who only buy the kinds of candy that they themselves don’t like, so they won’t be tempted to eat it.
Excuse us. . .we have an open bag of Junior Mints that needs our attention.
For kids, Halloween is the ideal holiday. What other holiday has Milton Hershey as its patron saint? Attendance at long religious services is not required. There’s no need to wear uncomfortable, fancy clothes. No tight neckties, no pinching dress shoes. Important ritual items are limited to pumpkins, candy apples and tissue paper ghosts.
Joyce remembers her daughter Samantha’s honest approach to collecting treats. If she liked the candy offered, she’d eat it on the spot. If she didn’t, she’d return it to the giver — and come home with an empty basket.
When Ellen’s children were younger, the strategizing for Halloween costumes would begin almost as soon as the novelty of a new school year was wearing off. Each year, it was a challenge to come up with something that was not-too-scary, not-too-complicated and, of course, amazing. Ellen’s kids always enjoyed going the “homemade costume” route, putting together an outfit of their own design. Oh sure, a black plastic Batman cape purchased at Party Land is easy, but according to Ellen, you may as well just pin a sign on your kid that says, “I’m unimaginative and lazy and so is my mom.”
Joyce, on the other hand, was traumatized by a bad experience in junior high sewing class. Ever since she has shied away from sewing machines and homemade costumes — and her kids were perfectly happy as store-bought Ninja Turtles and Disney princesses.
The downside of insisting on ingenuity and creativity is that it gets harder each year. How could we top the year of the homemade cupcake costume, when Jessie sewed felt sprinkles on a pink, ruffled cupcake skirt? Or the literary referenced year of the “Man in the Yellow Hat,” when Ellen’s oldest son carried his beloved Curious George stuffed monkey and wore a hand-sewn yellow felt vest and safari hat. And then there was the year we glued yellow feathers and pom-poms together to make baby chicks and attached them to a gigantic cardboard horseshoe painted red and silver to look like a magnet. When Andy wore it around his neck, he was, of course, a “chick magnet.”
So if you are lucky enough to have some kids to take trick-or-treating this year, just head for the houses with the three carved pumpkins, the battery-powered flying bats, and the cars with all the college stickers on them. We’re giving out lots of good candy… if we don’t eat it first.