"What logistics?" you ask. Lets start with the sheer number of events involved in celebrating Halloween. I have two kids who go to two different schools. That is, Munchkin attends a day school three days a week and while Monkey attends that day school those same three days, he also goes to public kindergarten in the afternoons. That means that I have one Trick-or-Trunk night, two different Halloween parades and three class parties. As a parent, that means dressing the kids in a variety of layers under and over costumes multiple times, various snacks to provide, cash to give for the school pumpkin patch and the never ending search for facility-wide-nut-free-candy kids actually want to eat.
Then there are the costumes. The days of homemade costumes being a sign of economic savvy and skill have morphed into Pinterest-fueled competitions. Even though my mother sewed or created almost all of my costumes as a kid, my sewing skills are limited. That means for about $35 and 20 minutes of digging for the right sizes, my kids each got a non-flammable costume of their choice. Despite the ease of store-bought costumes, I'm pretty sure Mother Earth isn't happy about all these inexpensive costumes, shipped from a million miles away being discarded November 1st but at least my kids have already worn their costumes to one event (three more to go!) and at home.
After hauling children to a farm to ostensibly pick pumpkins, but really to sit on sticky bales of hay for cheery look-we're-the perfect-family Facebook pictures, there is the task of carving pumpkins. Besides the carving knife used on the poor (yet delicious) Thanksgiving turkey, this is the only holiday where sharp knives are encouraged in the proximity of children. Carving pumpkins is fun, but lets admit that it's actually a huge chore. First I must find the right knife that is sharp enough to carve the pumpkin but not sharp enough to sever a finger. Then I allow the children to "help" clean slimy slippery seeds while in constant fear they'll leave a hand-print of pumpkin mush on the clean pants I erroneously thought I could wear. Once I've beat the pumpkin into artistic submission, there is then the laborious task of cleaning and roasting the pumpkin seeds. Of course, once everything and every child is cleaned up, one must post a you-better-smile-or-you're-not-getting-candy-photo complete with happy children, lopsided grinning pumpkins and a carefully hidden bandaged hand.
New to me this year is the obligation (okay, desire) to decorate the exterior of the house. In apartment living, "decorating for Halloween" means hanging a ghost on the door and calling it a day. Here there are lights to be strung, spiders to be attached to columns and blow-up figures to be plugged in. My two neighbors have skeletons on their swings and tombstones on their front yard, but have kindly assured me that I have a few years to catch up so don't check out my place for another three years.
Finally--finally-- parents have to navigate trick-or-treating. Now that I've dressed the kids in costumes that aren't dangerously long (or widely inappropriate), I'm ready to walk out the door. Except I need a bag for the candy and since I can't muster the energy to spend $1 on a plastic pumpkin basket that will go in the recycling bin, I'll probably go old-school and use a pillowcase. Once we start trick-or-treating, I apparently have to be extra-vigilant of our little monsters Despite the fact that the odds of being kidnapped are incredibly slim and I haven't heard of a case of poisoned candy in decades, my children's school thinks parents must prepare for the worst. Here are a few suggestions sent home with my kids:
- Do not let your children enter a stranger’s home or apartment
- Do not let your children eat any candy before they get home and you examine it.
- Inspect your child’s candy bag after trick-or-treating and throw out all candies that are
not in a sealed packet.
Although there are multiple articles suggesting alternatives to sugary candy, I will not participate in the attempt to inject healthy food into trick-or-treat. I make healthy food for my kids daily so that one night--ONE night--they can eat a bunch of candy. I know it's a special night, the kids know it's a special night and they know if they go trick-or-treating next week, people will look at them funny and call the authorities. So while I appreciate Halloween-themed pencils, tangerines pumpkins and banana ghosts, I am going to let me kids gorge after dinner before hiding the candy on the top shelf. Knowing them, they'll have some candy for the next few days and then forget about it until next October.
Halloween is a great time to learn what kids' real dreams are and who they want to be. It's time to have fun and be goofy and for children to learn the process of saying please and thank you for free candy. Although It is painful to navigate the costumes and piles of candy, I am lucky to have kids to love and dress up as wacky characters. Maybe next year, I can wear "costume" pajamas on my couch and the kids can bring me candy. That would be a real treat.