All Hallows Eve is fast approaching and it will be a strange one to be sure. In one of the most unusual years that most of us will experience, parents are trying to decide how to keep their children safe without robbing them of one of the joys of childhood. I’m talking about little ghouls, goblins and superheroes trudging through the neighbourhood trick or treating.
I've been reminiscing about my own childhood. I grew up in a very poor neighbourhood, so the idea of knocking on doors to get free candy was a dream come true. The problem was my mother didn’t believe it was safe, so my sister and I never participated. But when I was 12 years old, we moved to the suburbs of Calgary. The streets were quieter and crime was much less common. My mother allowed us to go out with a few other kids who were a few years older and could keep an eye out for us. It didn’t take long for me to catch on. I’m pretty sure I filled two or maybe even three pillowcases that night and stopped at home a couple of times to drop off my bounty. The funny thing was when we went through our loot later that evening, it didn’t seem to add up to near the amount I thought we’d collected. Mom confessed years later that she didn’t feel it was healthy for us kids to have so much candy in the house. She had given out what we collected to other kids who came to our door.
Two years later, my voice changed and I had grown significantly. That Halloween, judgmental eyes signalled I had outgrown trick or treating. That didn’t stop us from watching Halloween movies or having fun at the door, making other kids sing or dance as we handed out candy.
One could look at my childhood and wonder what I missed before the age of 12. While other kids were out at the age of six or seven, my sister and I were not. While other kids had candy in their lunch boxes for weeks, my sister and I had only our normal sack lunches. Still, I don’t remember feeling deprived. Somehow, my parents managed to do other things to make us feel special or to cause laughter. Mom would hide little treats around our home and we would go on a Halloween hunt, similar to the Easter egg hunts we did each year. We played games and we enjoyed each other.
When my dad died in the summer of 1976 and we moved to what was surely a better neighbourhood with better schools, we got a taste of what we’d been missing. We got to do what we hadn’t in the past. As much as I enjoyed participating in those activities, my favourite memories of Halloween – and many other holidays – all took place when we had much less money and fewer options available to us. All of my fondest childhood memories involve family. From 1977 on, we had some good years, but they were not the ones I yearn for today.
This year, COVID-19 has many parents concerned about the well-being of their families. Just like my mother didn’t feel it was safe for her children to trick or treat, there are probably a lot of parents afraid to allow their children to go out this Halloween. That’s OK. Don’t subject yourself to worry. Kids will understand and there is a lot you can still do as a family to have fun. Watch a movie, bake cookies, hide candy around the house and make them hunt for it, play games or tell ghost stories. I guarantee you, your kids will remember those activities. Years from now, this Halloween could be the one they remember fondest.
For those wondering how to make this a great Halloween for their kids, you can never go wrong when you give your kids your presence.
Have a safe and happy Halloween, folks!