By: Susan Ragsdale
Halloween is the family holiday in our household. But for some, this holiday holds controversy. Depending on your religious viewpoint, there are a variety of opinions as to how or if to celebrate this holiday. For us, it is one of the pure-fun holidays out there. It's a holiday where kids can simply be kids. It taps into imagination and creativity as children dream of their costumes. Halloween also lets kids face their fears.Remember the monster under the bed and the nights you HAD to have the nightlight on to go to sleep? Halloween is a fear-facer and a fear-buster. Celebrating the holiday in healthy ways helps kids build courage. It's a day when kids can stomp (figuratively, and yes, sometimes literally) on the monsters that scare them. I, for instance, do seem to recall stomping on someone’s hand that reached out from behind a tombstone in a haunted house to grab my ankle. Sorry, whoever you were, but I was 8 years old, facing my fears, and being brave!
Besides contributing to imagination, creativity, and courage, Halloween is also a time to connect with neighbors and community. There is no other holiday like Halloween for neighbors to actually get out –either in the neighborhood, at church, or in a mall– see each other, laugh, “ooh” and “ahh” over costumes, have casual conversations, and be, well . . . friendly. Can you beat that for an example of community? Adults laughing and having a good time together and expressing delight over each child?[Related: It's Halloween: Do You Know Your Neighbors? ]
As youth begin to outgrow the “trick or treat” phase, the holiday lends itself to another great opportunity for family sharing and bonding: scary movies! In our home, we pull out the old black and white classics, share our childhood favorites with the teenage nephews and nieces in our lives, talk about what’s scary and what’s not, and just enjoy ourselves around the television.
We host an annual party for family and friends to gather and play games and eat simple Halloween treats. Others fight over Thanksgiving or Christmas. We claim Halloween and go at it with great gusto. Treats are a must. Not just pizza or chili, but honest to goodness made for the holiday treats in the likeness of ghosts, monsters, spiders, mummies (both hearty and sweet). Making treats is just another creative activity that adds festivity and fun and provides an opportunity to spend time together playing with food and designing new creations in a safe, non-threatening atmosphere where we can chat and enjoy each other.Here I am (with a young helper) making a fun Halloween tree decoration. Try it out as a fun way to spend time with a child and to spruce up the decor at your Halloween get-together!
From this big kid’s perspective, Halloween is the holiday that is designed to be fun and it doesn’t carry any of the family stress and crazed rush that can come with the other big holidays. It ushers in fall and cool weather; it invites us to take a night, be outside, walk, and greet others with enthusiasm. I can’t wait to greet children, compliment their costumes, note who they are, introduce myself, share big smiles with those who live on my street, and get creative and crafty with my family and friends in making costumes, decorations and treats.
So have fun, be safe, and be a "big kid" this Halloween!
Tell Us: What part of Halloween are you most looking forward to? What traditions does your family hold?