There Will Be A Blue Moon In More Ways Than One This Halloween
Updated: Jan 5
by Scott Bellair Witch Project
Editor of Daddying and Director of Communications, DADvocacy Consulting Group
My girls will be masked up thanks to COVID-19 but won't be going trick-or-treating this year. For the past several years, our routine was to go shop for costumes in late-August, which is around the time of both their birthdays. In addition to visiting the pumpkin patch, something else we missed doing this season of the new abnormal, exploring all the costume and accessory options and animatronic displays at Spirit Halloween was half the fun. Not so, this year. I even asked the kids if they wanted to go shopping again last week. I thought they might feel like dressing up even though, like many other families across the country, we wouldn't be going to any big parties or roaming the neighborhood Halloween night.
I guess the main reason it makes me sad to not partake in the usual Halloween traditions this year is that, growing up, my family had very few traditions. And the ones we had, usually were kept up by my mom. I don't remember my father ever joining us for trick-or-treating on Halloween, and he certainly never wore a costume.
My sister and I went out each year with our mom until we were in middle school when we were free to terrorize the neighborhood along with our friends. Of course, throughout most of our costumed years, we were limited to wearing those cheap, cartoon-themed plastic masks with matching vinyl smock costumes. You know the ones.
Occasionally, we assembled our own homemade Halloween attire. The results were mixed. For instance, my DIY "Dracula" costume featured a black turtleneck and my navy blue Cub Scout uniform pants, red lipstick "blood" at the corners of my slobbery, plastic fang-stuffed mouth, smudged mascara on my cheeks to give me that "fresh from the grave" look, and some kind of black fabric as a cape. Scary, right?
Sharing Halloween activities with my daughters, like Christmas morning, has been one of the purest feelings I get of being a kid again. I guess it really shouldn't matter what we do this Saturday. All that's important is that we spend some part of it together (I already know we will since I coach both of their soccer teams).
In addition to any sports-related activities you might share this weekend, here are several ideas for traditional and not-so-traditional things you can do to celebrate a spooky but safe All Hallow's Eve 2020 with the kids:
Have a spooky movie/TV marathon with family or outdoors with friends in a small-group gathering. Check out my recommended flicks for everyone, including little ones (7 and under): HERE, HERE, and HERE. For kids 8+: HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE. And for older kids (13+): HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE. If you're a Psych-O, like I am, here's a link to a list of great Halloween episodes of Psych TV series you can binge.
Hold a family or neighborhood pumpkin carving contest
Have a TikTok dance duel -- again, costumes encouraged
Tuck the younger kids in with a good Halloween-themed book to cap off the night. Little ones will love books like Bone Soup, "What Was I Scared Of?" from Dr. Seuss' The Sneetches and Other Stories, and Creepy Carrots. Older kids might enjoy Out To Get You: 13 Tales of Weirdness and Woe or Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror
Hop in the car for a safe tour of the coolest decorated houses in your neighborhood.
Maybe the scariest thing about us not going out together this Halloween is that my girls' reasons for passing up the candy grab this year are not entirely COVID-19-driven. While the pandemic has certainly altered plans for most families this year, my 11- and 13-year-old have decided on their own that there are other, more desirable options for Halloween. The 8th-grader plans to hang out with a few friends to grab candy and a take-out dinner and enjoy a scary movie together under the blue moon. My 6th-grader is still undecided. She'd like to do something similar to what her big sis is doing, but knows mom and dad are happy to entertain her with dinner, treats, and a spooky movie at home.
It's hard not to let the thought enter my head. My kids are middle-schoolers now and maybe they both – dare I say it? – have outgrown these childhood customs. While it was inevitable, I suppose, and we've given them the freedom to make these choices themselves, the thought of losing the Halloween fun of old has given me a little bit of heartache as a parent.
Have they outgrown all of it?
If they've reached an age where they'd prefer to hang out and watch movies with a few of their friends instead of going door-to-door begging for candy dressed as the Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood, what's next? No family game nights, or bike rides, or ice cream runs, or... no Santa Claus? Actually, the boat has sailed on that last one. But that just makes losing our old Halloween festivities that much more disheartening. [And, yes, it's a small thing given the more serious damage the pandemic has caused in the lives of so many. Keeping such things as trick-or-treating in perspective is absolutely necessary.]
Part of my approach as a dad has always been to give my girls all the important "kid things" I missed out on growing up. But like all parents whose kids have grown too fast before their eyes and embraced their independence, I'll welcome this new phase and hold onto the many memories from season's past. And, like everyone else this covidious Halloween 2020, I'll adapt, keep wearing my mask, and make the most of it.
Scott Beller is the proud, imperfect dad of two mighty girls, Morgan and Lauren, and also Editor of the Daddying blog, and DCG's Director of Communications. He's a seasoned writer and PR agency veteran with more than 25 years of experience helping organizations of all sizes reach audiences and tell their stories. Prior to launching his own creative communications consultancy in 2003, he led PR teams with some of the world’s most respected agencies, including Fleishman-Hillard and The Weber Group. As a consultant, he’s helped launch two other parenting advocacy nonprofits with DCG founder Allan Shedlin. His first book, Beggars or Angels, was a ghostwritten memoir for the nonprofit Devotion to Children's founder Rosemary Tran Lauer. He was formerly known as "Imperfect Dad" and Head Writer for the Raising Nerd blog, which supported parents in inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers, and creative problem solvers. He earned his BA in Communications from VA Tech.