For some of you I know this might sound weird. It's lollies and dressing up, what's the problem, lady? you might be saying.
Yeah, OK. I know it's huge in the Northern Hemisphere, especially in the USA, but down here in lil ole New Zealand, Halloween is relatively new on the scene.
I mean, we always knew October 31st was Trick or Treat night, but nobody actually did it. At least, not until really really recently.
Of course there is also the old Christian "Halloween is about Evil" thing we had to contend with. Do we let our daughter go to her friend's Halloween-themed birthday party? Do we allow the kids to attend our school's Halloween disco? If we do are we compromising? (Tacitly celebrating dark things that go completely against everything we believe in?)
Then there is the nonsensical silliness of the actual season. We are in SPRING down here, for gosh sakes! It's not the end of summer, it's not the death of the season, or Fall. You can't buy pumpkins in the shops if you tried (because they're out of season)!
|[We'd planned to be at the gate but the drizzle saw us moving our operation onto the porch]|
For as long as we could we distracted our kids with a happier brighter alternative - a Bright Light Party, with fireworks and lolly scramble, friends and fun. It's an institution round here.
But for the past couple of years this has no longer been enough.
These days, it would seem EVERYBODY is doing Trick or Treat.
Like, if we don't let our children go they will be shamed and embarrassed in front of their whole class, the entire school. They will be the only kids in the WORLD not doing it. We will be the meanest parents in the world.
Last year it all blew up in our faces, all this "sticking to our principles and trying to find an alternative".
We were resisting Trick or Treating ("Knocking on strangers doors and begging for sweets? It could be dangerous as well as bad for your teeth!") and offered them a trip out for icecream instead. All hell broke loose (quite in keeping with Halloween, now I come to think of it). We were denounced as the meanest parents in the world with floods of tears and shouts of rage.
This year we decided to rethink our response.
We'd seen all the Trick-or-Treaters out on the streets waving happily to each other. We'd seen for ourselves just how big this thing has become; it's become a community thing now, like it or not. Whether it's an American thing or not. Whether it's in the wrong season or not. And we were in danger of casting ourselves in the role of the Grinch.
We felt uncomfortable buying into it wholeheartedly, to be honest. It felt just a little bit like "caving" and we didn't want to send the message that :if everybody's doing it it's OK." (that could come back to haunt us later on, aye?)
|[My number one helper, Scrag a.k.a the Bat-Lizard]|
We came up with a simple plan. Meet our neighbours where they're at and serve them lemonade and lollies. Instead of begging for sweets from strangers, we'll offer greetings and goodies to the people we live alongside of. We'll be gracious hosts and generous givers. Grinch no more.
Rather than decorate spooky, we'll decorate with colour and light, as befits Spring - the season we're in.
And we relented and let the Big Boy go trick or treating with his friends, and the Girl go to the Halloween Birthday Party. Condition? Not dressing up ugly or scary.
The big kids were still worried we'd embarrass them.
Dash: "Mum when people come around to our house you're not going to say anything weird are you? Cos that would be embarrassing."
Me: "Weird? Like what? like God bless you and we don't believe in Halloween but go in peace??? Seriously? Do you think we're that fruity?"
Dash: "Well it would be embarrassing, mum!"
Miss Fab: "Yeah! We'd be so embarrassed!"
Me: "But you guys wouldn't even BE there?! How could that be embarrassing?"
Them: "Cos our friends would come to school and go, your parents are weird!"
Ha. They have such confidence in our ability to shame them. As if I would say that?!
As it turned out, my big kids had nothing to fear.
As the hordes of zombies, ghouls and ghosts approached our lemonade stand, I simply said, "Hi! Are you having a good night?"
And they said, "Yeah!" and "This is cool!" and "Can I have some lemonade please?"
To which I replied, "Of course you can, luv. And here's some lollies too. Here ya go! Have a good night!"
See? not embarrassing at all.
(And I think we've finally hit upon a nice fine line a.k.a. the Middle Ground. Connecting with our community, serving them in our own small way without buying into the hype or the stuff we don't like about it, all without alienating our kids and making them resent us and our faith forever. Phew.)
OTHER STUFF YOU MIGHT WANT TO CHECK OUT:
- Our Bright Light Party (a Halloween Alternative)
- How to Build a Rustic Lemonade Stand
- How to Make Awesome Jar Lanterns