Halloween, the Pandemic, and Kids

Two lit, carved pumpkins with slightly menacing faces

Out here in the wilds of Southwold, Halloween is like every other day. No matter how lit up or pumpkin-friendly we choose to make this house, no one’s going to allow their kids to trick or treat out here. Besides, every kid knows you go where there’s the most return (candy) for your effort and that’s in town.

Halloween planning is well underway and the countdown is on. Many kids are being told there’s no Halloween this year and that’s not just sad, it’s unnecessary. Children are resilient in the moment, but make no mistake, fallout from the pandemic is shaping them in ways we won’t know for years to come. A little normalcy in their lives, preserving something they look forward to, would help offset some of the negatives.

Before my brother and I went through boxes of our Mom’s photos, I couldn’t have told you a lot of detail about our childhood Halloweens. I remember Mrs. Dennis making us sing before she doled out treats. She knew our Mom so we had to do it! But seeing the photos brought back wonderful memories, including the year we had a Halloween party in the basement. Mom went all out with decorations and we had a blast with the neighbourhood kids.

Large witch attached to the basement concrete block wall. It's wearing a black dress and flying on an actual broom affixed to the wall.
Mom used her fave broom for this witch. She put up huge ghosts and other creatures around the basement.
Kids dancing and having fun in costume. One in the foreground is eating an apple he just bobbed for.
A zombie whose name I don’t remember enjoys his bobbed apple.

It was always all about the costume. We’d plan what we were going to wear several weeks in advance. When I was ten, I decided to be – what we called back then – a hobo. It was easy to make. Put a pillow in my pants and grab some of Dad’s old clothing. Kevin was a musician. A Hawaiian musician, influenced by our parents’ travels? I’m not sure.

I'm dressed in oversized men's clothing with stubble drawn on my face. Kevin is holding a guitar and has a beaded necklace and a tunic over burgundy slacks.

It was an important night. We’d see everyone we knew out on the street after dark, which felt a little badass for a ten-year-old. There was always one kid we knew who was was too sick to trick-or-treat. Some years, it was so cold we all became tiny flashers with our winter coats over our costumes.

It’s too bad you can’t see the cat’s tail that Mom made!
She did an amazing job on our costumes.

So, when I hear adults say it’s no big deal to cancel Halloween I think we need to try harder to remember being a kid. There are clever ways of keeping your distance and still letting the littles have their fun.

My brilliant sister-in-law and her resourceful husband remember. They’re planning to pick up candy with tongs and deliver it through a large pipe from their porch down into the treat bags of the little goblins. Some people have rigged ziplines for candy dispensing. Clotheslines, model trains, candy cannons – treat giveaways can be touchless.

When someone is disparaging things that kids find important, I’m always drawn to this comedy bit by Brian Regan. It’s short and it’s right on the money. Or in this case, right on the candy.

4 thoughts on “Halloween, the Pandemic, and Kids”

  1. Awwww you’re so right. And those precious pics and memories just drive it home. Thank you for sharing it all – and reminding us that kids can be safe and keep a little bit of normalcy this year. ❤️

  2. The creative long pipe candy dispenser is brilliant! That’s a great workaround for how this pandemic has changed everything while not doing kids out of fond Haloween memories!

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