What a great Halloween we had in our family! What a wonderful festival – though unless one is a follower of Celtic traditions, I’m not sure ‘festival’ is the correct term. ‘Excuse for fun’ or ‘evening out of the ordinary’ might be more apt descriptions.
Why do I enjoy Halloween so thoroughly? Because it is the one night of the year that children can run around town, often unsupervised by adults, approaching strangers and receiving smiles and treats! How often does that happen in the life of the average Western child? Is there any other evening when bands of children – and teens – running around the streets elicits indulgent smiles and kind words from adults?!
What a wonderful thing for a child to be able, in trust, to knock on the door of someone she does not know and know that she will get some small treat, a few words about her costume, perhaps, and generally enjoy the wonderful feeling created by adults who care enough about to children to take the time, the effort and the money to decorate their homes, to dress up themselves perhaps – to buy or make treats!
Ok – sure – there are horror stories, there are always those unfortunate souls who prey upon children or who put up little signs declaring “no trick-or-treaters” (and who might have a good reason for this). And there is the sickly amounts of sugar that the children stuff down themselves. But it seems to me that such risks are worth it – that the price of fear of Halloween is a mistrust in the world and in the unknown – and, unfortunately, not the unknown ghoul but the unknown human being. As for the candy – for sure there are children who cannot, for health reasons, eat pounds of Snickers bars and tootsie rolls – but nowadays many people give out stickers or healthy alternatives.
Having said that, as a parent of boys blessed by an abundance of hearty health, an orgy of sugar does not trouble me. I am so pleased by their experience of the kindness of strangers, of whole neighborhoods being decorated to please the children, of free explorations in the dark – that I don’t care if they over-do it. They get over it. And what they are left with is a positive picture of adults welcoming children in a warm and positive way. To me that’s worth a few tummy aches!
Posted on November 15, 2005 in Children and Society, Seasons and Festivals
Thank you for articulating so nicely exactly how I feel about Halloween! I just put my young girls to bed after a wonderfully fun evening that started with a sandwich supper with 5 other families and a trip around the block with 13 other children ages 2-10. My girls loved running from door to door with the big kids, enjoyed the smiles of the treat givers and had another chance to practice saying thank you to the kind strangers who gave them a treat simply because friendliness abounds on October 31st.
It is possible to do it without the sugar overload as well. Due to severe diet restrictions, my children cannot eat any sugar at all. They don’t mind – they give away their horde to the other children, making them quite popular, and each gets to choose a new book instead. They have all the fun of Halloween with none of the tummy aches and a new book to boot!
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