When your 8 year old wants to sleep in her Elsa costume from endless exuberance for Halloween, it’s no wonder parents attach so much meaning to this happy holiday. For many it lands right up there with Thanksgiving and Christmas on the favorite scale.
Halloween is a multibillion dollar industry as goblins fill our lawn, we transform into mythical characters, and delight in a treasure trove of sugar treats. For me, Halloween also holds childhood memories for me. Being one who likes to play dress up, I remember wrapping myself in sheets to become a Greek goddess and carrying my pillow case for miles with no adult supervision. Groups of us crunched through the leaves on lawns to collect massive amounts of fun size Baby Ruths and Butterfingers.
When I became a parent, Halloween meant wonderful rituals. An October evening of carving the biggest jack ‘o’ lanterns on the block from pumpkins grown in our own back yard. The annual school Halloween parade of super heroes through our neighborhood. Our traditional chili and cornbread supper to sustain our own trick or treaters through the night’s adventures.
We loved it all.
When we attach so many meaningful memories to a day, is it any wonder that the mere thought of not being with our children on this special occasion can give us angst? It may be a mere three hours between after dinner dusk and bedtime tuck ins but we don’t want to miss out.
For parents, it’s more than candy and costumes. It is our longing to share with our children some of the sweetest rituals of our own childhood. It is our deepest desire to be the one that creates some of the most joyful moments of our child’s life. It is our fear that if we do not have our children during these few hours that we are missing out on the magic.
The years that we get to celebrate some of these moments of growing up are few. Here are some Halloween hints to help savor and not squander them:
Plan ahead. Whether this is “your” holiday or not, look ahead to see how you can keep the focus on your child creating a great memory. Talk to the other parent.
Keep it simple. A child doesn’t remember whether they had 10 or 100 hand sewn sequins. They remember the feelings of the moment. Don’t let their memory be of you cursing at a costume.
Avoid rushing. Savor the preciousness. Whether you visit 5 houses or 50 matters less than the enjoyment along the way.
Consider the other parent. How would you like to be treated? Would you like a photo sent your way? Want them to stop by? Wish you didn’t have to share?
Be generous. If you know it would mean the world to your spouse’s parents to see your little Spider Man, consider planning a costumed visit prior to actual holiday.
Be creative. Don’t have your children this year for Halloween? How else might you celebrate on a different day? Have a small party? Attend a community event? Fun comes in lots of forms.
Honor your rituals. Rituals bind us. They help us to feel connected and secure. Give your children the gift of holiday rituals that they can experience for years to come.