jenna morton she said times transcript

She Said: Halloween is More Than Ghouls & Ghosts

I love Halloween! Even as a child, I would get so excited about this holiday, not only because of the candy (because let’s be honest, the candy is always awesome), but also for the creativity and for the sense of community.

Halloween night is an occasion to run through the neighbourhood with friends, to hear folks comment on how much the kids have grown, to take pride in the streets we call home – and that’s worth buying ridiculously sized chocolate bars and chips for everyone who comes along. Seeing homes decorated, whether as haunted houses or covered in glittery pumpkins and friendly witches, helps grow this community spirit.

I’ve also always loved the creativity that comes with Halloween. Whether you’re an off-the-rack costume buyer or a make-it-from-scratch, the-more-obscure-the-better type, dressing up for Halloween allows us all to stretch our imaginations and express our personalities. Taking a break from the routine and embracing the fun of Halloween can be a great mental health boost for us all.

Halloween, and playing dress up in general (which our kids do quite often), gives us a chance to talk about career goals and gender roles. It’s not uncommon to see our sons in princess dresses or pretending to be Katie from PAW Patrol, or our daughter wearing our Prince Charming outfit. There are no girls’ costumes and boys’ costumes in our house, just costumes.

When we pretend to be princes and princesses, we talk about duty, public service, poise, and grace, as well as castles, parties, treasure chests, and grand adventures. We spend equal time chasing dragons and unicorns as we do putting out fires and protecting cities from bad guys. Everyone has the opportunity to explore space as an astronaut or dance Swan Lake as a ballerina.

We have some friends who don’t like to dress up, and that’s okay, too. If you come to our door in the spirit of the day, as a little kid or as an older teen, we’re not going to judge or offer commentary. You politely ask for candy, you get candy. It’s as simple as that. Do I love when I see groups of kids, young or old, dressed up for the night? Of course! But I also know there are children who are scared to dress up, who react to the odd textures of fabric, who might not be able to get a costume, or who simply don’t want to. It doesn’t mean they can’t walk the neighbourhood and be a part of trick-or-treating.

And while we all love the candy, a break from the sugar can be a good idea, too. But instead of the apples and toothbrush route, we opt for stickers, temporary tattoos, and other Halloween-themed loot bag types of toys. Our kids get super excited by these non-edible treats, and I’m not left with a cupboard full of junk food. A perfect win-win!

For me, Halloween is also a great opportunity for some quality family time. Other holidays generally involve traveling and extended family, but Halloween is more of a stay-close-to-home, spend-time-with-immediate-family type of event. I’m sure as our kids get older and want to spend the night with friends this will change, but for now, Halloween is a time we come together. We dress up as a group, we trick-or-treat as a group, and we carve our pumpkin as a group. We laugh a lot, because the stress factors are low – there’s no turkey dinner to cook, no presents to wrap, no chocolate eggs to hide. And the expectation is that this is a time to be silly, which makes us happy, together.

She Said appears Saturday in the Times & Transcript and on Pickle Planet.

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