ParentClick Santa Barbara

A Mass Produced Halloween vs. A Creative Halloween


Tailoring a Commercial Holiday… The best Halloween I ever spent was in a country that does not celebrate Halloween. I did notice a halfhearted attempt to bring the commercial tidal wave that is Halloween to France when we lived there. The mega-store Carrefour had stocked the shelves of a small portion of an aisle with plastic Halloween accoutrement available for purchase, but it did not come close to equaling the Halloween assault I experienced during a stop at CVS in mid-September. It certainly must not reap the 7-8 billion dollars that Americans spend on Halloween every year. There were no bags of cheap candy at the end of grocery aisles. No sexy costumes or ghoulish rubber masks available. Our family was in the position of having to create our own Halloween.

I was not going to deny my children Halloween just because they had been uprooted and moved to a different country. I had loved Halloween myself as a child. I loved candy when I was their age, and there is no denying that it is fun to get scared sometimes. If this were not the case, amusement park rides would not have been invented, and Brad Pitt’s World War Z would not have earned over 500 million. I get it.

When All Hallows’ Eve rolled around, we were ready. Having downloaded a few age-appropriate ghost stories onto our laptop, we went for a walk at dusk. We even dared to walk through a medieval graveyard for effect. We hid a few pieces of candy for the children and their friends to find in nooks and crannies along the way. When we returned from our outing, and still bundled from our walk, we settled in to read the ghost stories. The only light in the room was the glow of the computer screen and a few candles. In the dim light, I could see the children’s eyes grow wide while listening to the stories. They were rapt. Their imaginations took flight.

That Halloween, there were no gigantic piles of candy to search through for razor blades or other dangerous items. I had no concerns about the volume of sugar my children ingested. I did not have that moment of panic when I briefly lose my children in a crowd of rowdy Halloween revelers on the street. We did not spend the average $80.00 per capita that Americans spend on Halloween paraphernalia every year. That memorable Halloween, there was simply a dark fall night, a slow, atmospheric walk, a smattering of candy, and our imaginations.

We were in the position of having to get creative that Halloween, and that is where the real fun began. It remains my favorite Halloween and, when I think about it, for good reasons. Instead of accepting a packaged, mass-produced, commercial idea of fun, we did our own thing as a family. I liken it to the feeling I have when I prepare a healthy, balanced meal for my family versus the feeling I have when dinner comes out of a can. We are a busy family, both meals have happened at our house, but I am much prouder of the latter. That Halloween, we managed to experience what we love about Halloween and had the opportunity to be creative. We were able to skip the parts we don’t like. The spookiest part of all is that even though my children missed the gigantic “event” of Halloween back home, it remains their favorite Halloween as well.

[AUTHOR: Hilary Doubleday]

October 3, 2014

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