Besides their birthdays, young children really only care about three holidays: Halloween, Christmas and Easter.
When it comes to Halloween, many people despise this “holiday” and even try to ban it. An elementary school in Massachusetts has decided to ban “fall” holidays altogether.
Sorry well-meaning adults, the message to the young is not about the occult; it’s about costumes and candy.
When I was growing up, few things rivaled the excitement you felt when it came to anticipating Halloween night.
First, there was the choosing of the costume. Back then, we didn’t have huge stores that carried rack upon rack of colorful costumes with shelves full of accessories. No, we had to actually create our costume.
We had to use a little thing called our imagination. That meant we had to plan a little early if we wanted to create something really impressive.
If for some reason you hadn’t put anything together when it was time to head out the door, there was always the old stand-by “hobo” — some brown makeup on your face, some messy clothes, and a bandana tied to a stick.
Today’s children would have no idea what a hobo was, and it would not be politically correct to dress up as a homeless person, which I suppose is the hobo’s counterpart. But I digress.
Back in the day, once you had your costume, you planned your route. Everybody didn’t live in massive subdivisions, so planning your route was critical. You had to have a pow-wow with your friends and plan this based on who lived where the best “loot” would likely come from.
Next, you had to decide what vessel would carry the candy. No cute little pumpkin-shaped containers for us. We went straight to the linen closet and pulled out the bad-boy pillow cases.
We always wore our costumes to school on Halloween, or that Friday if it fell on the weekend. We also always had a Halloween party and a parade down the halls of the school.
There were no rules about children not wearing scary costumes. There were just as many princesses and firemen as there were witches and monsters. I don’t have any friends who needed therapy from those days of our Halloween experiences.
Halloween night was, of course, the pinnacle of the month. If it were on a school night, you began your preparations as soon as you got home. You didn’t worry about eating dinner, since there would be plenty of candy all night — and a few apples, which we always threw away since we were told they may have razor blades in them.
We used to leave just before dark because we were too excited to wait. Of course, we said goodbye to our parents and there was never a thought about them going with us. Nobody took pictures and my mother never dressed up in a witch costume. Mom had to stay home and pass out candy and dad had to read the newspaper and watch the news.
After hours and hours of walking, ringing doorbells, and collecting candy, it was time to head home. Sorting the candy was almost as much fun as eating it. No parent scrutinized the candy either; they just warned us not to eat too much of it. “Don’t worry,” we assured them.
I always loved Halloween when our children were little. My costume rule was you can be anything you want, but you have to make it using things we have or find at Nana’s house.
One year I let them buy their costumes. They begged me, saying they were the only children who had to wear “homemade” costumes. More than $100 later, armed with cheap costumes made in China, I realized my mistake.
After that I held my ground.
Although nobody really cares anymore, I still decorate for Halloween.
My favorite decorations? All of the framed pictures of our children in their homemade costumes.
Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.