Treasure Your Old Halloween Traditions While Embracing New Ones
As the air begins to cool and the leaves change color, I look forward to the upcoming fall season. I love decorating our front porch with pumpkins and corn stalks, making scarecrows, planting mums and of course celebrating Halloween traditions. This fabulous, spooky holiday has become one of my favorites.
When we were young, my sisters and I loved to go to the fabric store with my mom to pick out the patterns and materials for the Halloween costumes we would wear on Trick-or-Treat night. My mom would spend hours at the sewing machine lovingly creating costumes for us. We would head out into the night dressed as a cute tiger, a clumsy clown, or a scary witch. In our hands were clutched orange plastic pumpkin-shaped buckets for collecting our treats.
These costumes were also worn for our classroom parties at school. Each class would take turns parading through the halls while the teachers judged the cutest, scariest and most original costumes. My mom’s creations won more than one ribbon over the years. After Halloween the costumes were carefully stored away. They were handed down over the years to younger siblings or recycled into different costumes. The black dress from one year’s Pilgrim costume became a witches gown the next year.
During our teen years Halloween meant marching in the town’s parade and attending spooky parties with friends. We learned to create our own costumes out of everyday items. My dad’s old shirt, a big black belt and a handkerchief became a pirate costume. Some long flannel underwear, a black wig, some plastic glasses with a fake nose and a pillow stuffed under my shirt created a laugh-evoking “funny old man” costume that family members still recall today.
When I started a family of my own I desperately tried to recreate the Halloween traditions from my childhood. This was nearly impossible since my family’s lifestyle is drastically different from the one I enjoyed as a child. As a working mother I do not have the free time necessary to create homemade Halloween costumes so, instead of heading to the fabric store, we head to the nearest Halloween party store to purchase costumes for the kids. Many schools have banned Halloween celebrations so classroom parties and hallway parades are a thing of the past. Even the atmosphere of Trick-or-Treat night has changed as more and more towns encourage families to attend community events in lieu of going door-to-door to collect candy. Luckily, our town still supports Trick-or-Treat and we have used this night to create a strong Halloween tradition for our family.
It was actually my husband’s ex-wife who established my family’s Halloween tradition. In order to create a positive atmosphere for their daughter, she encouraged my husband to include all of my stepdaughter’s family members in the festivities. On our first Halloween together, my husband and I joined his ex-wife, my stepdaughter, and my stepdaughter’s cousin for a fun evening of Trick-or-Treating. Over the years our Halloween tradition has seen more of my stepdaughter’s family members join in, including her 3 younger sisters, a stepfather, cousins and step-cousins, and even step-grandparents.
On Trick-or-Treat night, we all meet at my parents’ house since they live in the best neighborhood for Trick-or-Treating. Last-minute touches are added to the kids’ costumes and my mom snaps pictures of everyone before we head out. Afterward, we return to the my parents’ house so the kids can tally their treasures and the adults can check for any questionable items that may have landed in the kids’ bags.
Even though the Halloween traditions I celebrate with my family are nothing like ones I remember from my childhood, I am grateful to have a loving family who understands the importance of establishing strong Halloween traditions for our children. We may celebrate in different ways but the result is the same.