Friday, November 2, 2007

Spell Bound

Halloween has come and gone, a great deal of posts written about it, and most, much to my surprise not quite pro-Halloween. And the reasons range from candy excess to the will-be-worn-only-once costume expense, knocking on people’s doors, even the odd post how the modern day Halloween has strayed away from its original intentions. All quite valid concerns, but in my opinion, very much misplaced. Let’s take them one by one.

Candy Excess: This also falls under childhood obesity, tooth problems. But it doesn’t have to be too much candy. When Chip went trick or treating this year, I told him he could get only one candy from each house. As soon as the door opened, he would say “Trick or Treat” or “Happy Halloween” and caution the gentleman/lady with an “Only one candy” when they offered him the bowl. I saw many kids grab candy by the handfuls while their parents watched on and didn’t say a word. The parents can set limits and should. And more importantly, if sweet things are a problem, every holiday and festivity needs to be altered since they are all celebrated with sweets, no point in singling out Halloween.

The Costume: Costumes can be found from $1 to $100. I have bought a costume for Chip from the dollar store when he was a baby (a ladybug). Last year his costume (a devil) cost $10, this year (the scarecrow) cost $15. I look at it as going to the petting zoo or Starbucks. You don’t really need to spend $10-$15 to see cows and sheep and pigs for a couple hours, but it can be a lot of fun. Just like the $6 Venti caramel macchiato. You can go without it, but you can indulge once in a while and it does taste really good even if it over in 15 minutes. Many people do costume swaps, wear hand me downs. For those in the US, try Also, you can craft costumes at home from a couple of boxes, trash bags, toilet paper, bed sheets. Just go online and you can find a bunch of ideas. You don’t have to spend a fortune. And even if you do, the costume will be worn many times during dress up and play. At least those who are 5 and above, the costume is worn 20 times before Halloween and will give some amusement on snowy/rainy weekends.

Knocking on Strange doors: Many people are not comfortable doing that? Apparently. And I don’t understand why. If there is a pumpkin at the door, trick-or-treaters are welcome. And if you are scared (and not just in the Halloween way) at who lives in the house on your street, you have more problems on your hand than just Halloween. I look at this as a great way to overcome shyness. I used to be a shy child and Chip can be too, so this is a great exercise for us. The costume and the lure of the candy gives courage. The lines are the same everywhere, so no ice-breakers needed. You say please and thankyous, learn to wait your turn if there are a bunch of kids at the door, learn to compliment the house owners on the fab decorations.

Straying away from Halloween’s Origins: It was a festival to honor the dead – the day before All Saints Day. And you can still honor the dead if you want. Tell your children about how it originated. Trace its history. It can be a fun lesson. No reason to not go trick or treating later in the evening!

As as you can tell, I like Halloween. This year a scarecrow, a mermaid and a tinker bell chaperoned by a corporate witch and a lady vampire went trick or treating. And what a treat it was. We saw giant spiders, intricately carved pumpkins, happy ghosts swaying in the wind, went into strobe lit caves with scary noises and skulls and bones and monsters, bumped into skeletons and bats. And we met such interesting characters on the way. A small Darth vader, one batman and riddler, two princesses, a knight, a confederate soldier, a ghoul, a mummy, a cat and another tinkerbell with lights in her wings. A truly magical night it was. And later, after the tired but excited scarecrow and the corporate witch got home, two very cute princesses knocked on our door, curtsied and commented on how nice the decorations were, took a candy each and left.


I love Lucy said...

Let me be the first one to comment on how cute the little guy looks in his costume!He looks more like a pirate or a sailor though!!
Oh and now I get why no kids came trick-or-treating to our apartment...we completely forgot about the pumpkin!! Duh!!

Kodi's Mom said...

omg! so many things I didn't know - such as pumpkin at your door..why didn't anyone tell me?! but the neighborhood kids didn't seem to mind - maybe the natural cobwebs told them we were open for treating!! we had a steady stream at the door - at least 20-25 kids.

and the scarecrow is oh-so-cute! when do we see pics of the "corporate witch"?

Kodi's Mom said...

ok on the other things, I worte a comment that was as huge as a post and closed the window by mistake! damn!!! too frustrated to retype just now - I'll be back later...

mnamma said...

Chip looks very cute in the costume DotMom! My first impression was a pirate too but there was no eye patch :) And the origin of halloween was a pretty interesting read. I have always wondered about it but was too lazy to research.

DotMom said...

i love lucy: he does? well.. that's what you will get for $15 :).. actually any halloween decorations are OK. Most people have pumpkins (jack-o-lanterns)

kodi's mom: I went to put up fake cobwebs and realized that my porch was filled with spiders and webs. sigh. and the corporate witch is best left semi-anon :)

mnamma: he you and lucy both think he looks like a pirate, I can reuse this costume next year and just get an eyepatch and a bandana :)

Suki said...

Aww, that kid is utterly squishable in that costume!

I'm glad you instilled in him the discipline of limited treats. I must say though - I loved seeing the handfuls pour in, although I never was a candy bug!

It's funny how the community spirit of some festivals is slowly fading. Even on Holi here, people only stick to splashing people they know. It isn't an all-encompassing celebration as it used to be. Dunno... guess it can't be all bad, but this one I'm yet to figure out.

In the meantime, Trick-or-Treat!

Anitha(Nikki's mom) said...

Chip looks adooorrrable. Can we get to see corporate witch, scarecrow and the mermaid too?
Loved this post DotMom, this is the only pro-halloween post I have read. Agree with all of the things you said. Regarding the limiting sweets part, I have seen the same thing with lot of mommies here.

I think Halloween is fun(as is any other festvial). It is not only the Halloween day that I like, but also the month preceeding it. I love fall, the colors, the sweet smell of harvest that hangs in the air, and it marks the beginning of festival season for us too. I love going to PYO farms for apple/pumpkin picking. I picked 2 pumpkins this year, tried carving one (failure) and painted one more. I felt like a child again, trying my hand at some art after a verrrrrryyy lonngggg time. It is going to be more fun next year with Nikki as a toddler.

DotMom said...

suki: good point! I wonder why too..perhaps because we are so busy with out own selves?

anitha: welcome to the witch club. My first carved pumpkin many years ago was a complete disaster. Then I got one of them lil saws and carving tools and it made my life much easier. look at the result..printed the design on paper.. took me 40 mins to carve it.

NainaAshley said...

My thoughts exactly! I look forward to this day because its the only day when you get to see so many kids dressed up in such cute outfits right at your door step. Plus the look on their faces when they get the candy they want is priceless. As an added bonus this year , Apple was excited about trick or trating for the first time. I had a two candy rule for her and I sorted(she can't have any nuts) and hid half her candy after she went to bed anyway.
When people complain about the candy & costume expense, I always reminwant to remind them that we spend money on fun things for us or for the kids, isn't this just one of those fun activities? I smiled when I read your 'starbucks ' example because that's exactly what I had used while discussing this with a co-worker yesterday!
BTW Chip looks so cute!

Anitha(Nikki's mom) said...

WOWWW, that was something that you carved?! awesome it is!!!!!!! I thought you got the picture from the web.

DotMom said...

nainaashely: glad you and I think the same way :)

anitha: it's super easy. really. it looks fancy but it does not take that much effort. get the lil saws next time.

Fuzzylogic said...

Aww..Chip looks utterly butterly adorable:)And my oh my am I admiring your pumpkin art..we tried this time to do it too but rather it ended up looking pretty pathetic,must try with the little saws next time around.
That's a neat rule about the candy. I might have to do that next year,this year around Ina was the one refusing to even take the candy at all. She was just happy being one with the little costume party!

Kodi's Mom said...

ok am back armed with more patience and some smarts - so I dont close the page again! heres what I had to say - abt candy, even with one per house that is a HECK of a lot of candy...thats 30 candies just on my street - and what am I supposed to do with it? K doesnt like most - seriously, he doesn't - I even tried stuffing some in him once just so he could taste what it was like and he didnt want it! so a whole lot of candy and the only way for it all to go is redistribution- I'd rather stay home that night to greet the visitors instead of going on door-to-door candy collection.
the costume, totally agree - you could even craft one at home at almost no cost..I guess when I said invest, cost wasnt the issue, the fact of putting whatever time/effort/money it took to bring one home so it could be used once and collect dust rest of the year doesnt sound appealing to me. for pretend play, I've realized I don't have to go this lenght - wearing bapa-amma's clothes offers lot of room! (pun intended!) ps: I am a freecycler - I've had very few takers for kids' clothes in general.
stranger doors: agreed...I still have inhibitions, but I'm sure it is ok this one night in the year..
then the point of halloween - dont even get me started...I think the way it is being celebrated right now is more like disrespect to the dead - too many cultural clashes lets just leave that stone unturned.

as I said in my post, I do like some aspects of Halloween and I wish the focus was more on taht, that more ppl would give something other than sweet treats, and there wouldn't be as much hype, peer pressure, build up.

all said, we do need Halloween-lovers around, or a whole industry would perish ;)

Orchid said...

y'know I decided to enjoy Halloween this I am on ur side :)..and did you say there was a corporate witch somehwere...where? where?? :)

and boy does CHIP look IT!! I mean if there were as such a thing as a Halloween "IT" costume then this would be it, seriously loved if only Li'l A would grow out of his super hero fantasy .....

Preethi said...

chip looks so adorable... and got so much information from your blog, the pumpkin on the door is news!! And love the one candy rule... thats so cute!!! I am definitely trying trick or treating next year...

Big Zed said...

I love Halloween too. Didn't care about it too much before the babies. Abt costumes ... I agree with you. Cost is a moot point since the kids get hours of entertainment out of it. I spend a fortune taking her to the Wiggles concert for just 2 hours. Meanwhile she entertained herself for 5 hours with the $10 costume.

Tharini said...

A very balanced view Dot Mom. I learnt a couple of things from this. I guess the main issue for me, if I were to be honest with myself, is the lack of motivation to take an effort with something that I simply cannot relate to. That's it. If we stick around in this country, there is going to be plenty of opportunity for my sons to experience the unique experience that is present day Halloween. So, when I do have the time to have it my way, I am enjoying making full use of it and getting away with things! :D

Tharini said...

Forgot to say...Chip is just dashing. Where'd u find this cool costume? And was he able to relate to it? Does he lhave a liking/interest for scarecrows?

DotMom said...

fuzzylogic: thanks :) last year Chip wasn't so much into candy. A year changed all that!

kodi's mom: thanks for taking the time to come back and write such a passionate comment. I just wish you were on my side :D

orchid: the corporate witch will be back next October :D. I am sure Chip will be in the superhero phase in a year..

preethi: you should, you should. Its a lot of fun.

big zed: see what i mean?

tharini: hardly :P. I am creature that gets influenced easily, I suppose. I would't miss halloween if I were to move back to India. But the sprit (no pun intended) is so infectious, its hard to stay away from it. Same for Christmas and Easter. the costume is from wal-mart. Chip wanted to be a tigger, but the costume was $30, so I suggested this one becase it as half the price. He knows what scare crows are and do, since we have two on our porch as fall decorations and he as seen pictures of it in the books. I think he is too young to relate to anything except trains and construction equipment!!

ddmom said...

Am late here..
Chip looks absolutely adorable.
What a wonderful writeup, love your enthusiasm.
I like it or not, my daughter loved it. Loved every bit it, from buying -to- dressing up -to- posing to the camera. The super excited girl for the rest of us excited, I even dressed up my little one and went to her school for the parade :)

Mona said...

aww, look at him.

choxbox said...

hi dotmom. totally agree with you.

1. the spirit of the thing: as i've said in my post we had a blast esply i guess bcoz the kids were with their friends.

2. costume: n3 has been reading about environmental awareness and is majorly into the reuse-recycle-repair mode. didnt ask for an expensive costume at all. we spent less than £2 on the hat/broom for the witch's costume and the rest was from stuff at home.

3. candy excess: there's this kid in n3's class who told her she couldnt go trick-or-treating bcoz her church doesnt allow it. n3 took about a quarter of her loot the next day for this girl to school saying that she had a lot so she could share. she has had a couple from the rest, n4 has had maybe one and guess whats happening to the rest - i am hogging it ;)

choxbox said...

and hey chip looks utterly cute :)

Sue said...

LOL! He looks so cute and utterly unscary!

I'm with you on letting kids enjoy the fun part of festivals. And honestly, if it's not their parents who teach them not to gorge themselves sick, how else are they supposed to learn this anyway?

Christina said...

Too much candy is handled in our house in two ways; My family is allergic to Red#40 and Blue#1 food colorings. We don't eat gum or caramel, and chocolate is rationed due to a mild sensitivity to cocoa in the children. There's more reason than belly-aches to watch the Halloween candy at our house.

What we do is let the kids get a piece or two from each house, and when we get home, we sort. Out comes the poison-to-us candies and then we get down to business. The girls are allowed to keep one pound of permissible candy each.

Once they have sorted their weight limit out from what they are allowed to have, we parents pay them $2/lb for what they didn't keep (toxic or not). They can use that money to buy candy they can eat, toys, new clothes, or whatever else they'd like.

Mom & dad keep the chocolates the kids didn't pick, and the candy that none of us can eat goes into a pinata for the next kids party we go to.

It's a win-win situation for everyone involved!

Rohini said...

Goodness, we do take too much stress, don't we? Why can't people take a fun holiday at face value and enjoy it. Too much candy on one day will not make a kid fat and everything doesn't have to have a serious, substantive reason behind it especially if it involves kids!

Chip looks really cute and remarkably unscruffy for a scarecrow

the mad momma said...

wow.. i cant imagine doing that. too much effort. and i am a lazy mother!! but Chip looks awfully cute and very dashing pirate liek.. sorry, i know he is meant to be a scarecrow, but he looks too dashing to be one. Glad to hear Big Geek is doing better... fingers crossed and prayers being said...

DotMom said...

ddmom: it's really fun dressing up in silly costumes.

mona: thanks :)

choxbox: am so terribly impressed with n3's generosity and her environmental awareness!

sue: ah. thanks!

Christina: what a wonderful way. I am going to share this trick with all my friends. 'buying' candi is really an awsome idea.

rohini: thanks. my sentiments excatly

mad momma: oh you are not lazy. the costume is not home made. its store bought. all the people that think this is a pirate!!! Add an eye patch and this will do more rounds next year! thanks for you wishes for BigGeek!

Gauri said...

I am so with you on this Dotmom. All the way. My post on Halloween echoes this too - am still waiting for a couple of pictures before I put this post up.
And hope Big Geek is doing better.



Gauri said...

Chip looks so cute :-)) Great to know that you guys had a lot of fun trick or treating :-)

DotMom said...

gauri: thanks :) we should have a virtual halloween party next year!