Step 1: It is imperative that you read this article (posted below).
Step 2: May you be filled with wonder and disgust at what you just read above.
Growing up, anticipation for Halloween was greater than the average college student’s anticipation for Thirsty Thursday. I remember carefully studying each costume option in Party City, my mom patiently trudging behind my brother and I as we tried on the options in the hunt for the perfect costume. She willingly overpaid for manufactured costumes that we wanted, even if they would only be worn a couple of times. My mom understood Halloween. Children are stuffed into schools at a young age, forced to learn practical things like reading, writing, and math. Certainly, I of all people believe in the importance of education…but sometimes, schools can, accidentally, stamp out some creativity in a child’s life, with the earnest goal of educating them well. Halloween fulfilled the fantasies of children once a year, allowing them to proudly parade around in their alter-ego.
Every Halloween, my parents would order pizza for dinner. My brother and I would suit up, meet up with our neighbors, and depart for the night. My parents would stay behind, appropriately oohing and aahing at kids’ costumes all night long and handing out candy. I think our family distributed over 10 pounds of candy every year, until the neighborhood got older and the Halloween visitors became more sparse. I had off every year on November 1 (All Saints’ Day-yay for Catholic schools!) and my brother and I would make ‘candy trades’. We exchanged Almond Joys and Butterfingers, and surrendered all hope that our dad wouldn’t eat the majority of the Reese’s in the candy bowl.
Although my neighborhood has changed quite a bit (people growing up & moving out), it was a Halloween haven as a child. My neighborhood is large, well lit, and safe, and had plenty of young families with children. The neighborhood was dotted with a few scary haunted houses that you scurried by when you were little, and eventually gained the courage to walk up to the driveway as you got older. (A special shout out to my neighbor a few doors down, who used to spend weeks decorating his house with cobwebs, a coffin on the front porch, black and strobe lights, and donned a mortician’s outfit on Halloween).
My neighborhood had a lot of visitors on Halloween. Why wouldn’t it? Down the road, there are a few neighborhoods that probably weren’t the best place to grow up. I have no doubt that on Halloween, the homes there would, for the most part, be dark.
Poor children are disadvantaged in so many ways. They are more likely to come from single parent households and have less ability to spend a lot of time with their parent(s). Their neighborhoods are more dangerous. Studies show that by the time they start school as four year olds, they are already behind their wealthier peers. They are likely to suffer from food insecurity. While social services may help with the above factors, there are no social services to ensure that a child has the right to celebrate Halloween.
Allow these kids normalcy. This Halloween, please, PLEASE, allow them one comfort: the ability to engage in a safe, fantasy-filled night like everyone else. They probably need it more.
P.S. The same for older kids. Adults may not be the only ones regretting the time passing by so quickly.