Toronto Zoo

Make Halloween Great Again

I should start by saying that I don’t hate all of Halloween.

I like the dressing up of it, though it’s distressing how few creative and homemade costumes there are anymore. For every kid in a giant handsewn pickle costume (that happened this year), there are two dozen store bought storm troopers and ninjas. The adults are usually a bit better, but I don’t think my psyche can tolerate even one more costume comprising a pair of fishnets and the word ‘sexy’ tacked onto an otherwise unremarkable uniform.

I like the running around the neighbourhood the night of it, though there’s less and less of that too. We have a great neighbourhood with neighbours that hand out night caps to adults and with a street that puts on a front yard concert each year, but so many parents now just drive across town to walk through the mall. Where’s the neighbourliness in that? We’d rather get our candy from faceless corporations than the people who live next door? I’m not sure what to say.

I don’t even mind the treats part of it, though I really do hate that treats now just means store bought candy. I hate that we stuff kids full of the worst food possible, food that has basically zero nutritional value, all just to line the pockets of a few corporate food giants. It wouldn’t be so bad if the treats were homemade (which they are at our house). A candy apple or a rice crispy square might not be much better for you than a candy bar or a bag of chips, but at least we’d have the community experience of making food for each other. But we’d rather just buy a box of processed sugar.

So, like I said, I don’t hate all of Halloween, but I do really hate what Halloween has become. It could be a chance for us to make creative costumes with the kids, cut cool things out of pumpkins, bake treats for the neighbours, then wander around our communities having fun with each other. Instead, we’d rather buy our costumes, buy our treats, and spend the evening in a shopping mall. It’s depressing.

I know it’s too late for this year, but I challenge you, wherever you may be, not to let next Halloween be like this one. Do something fun with it. Do something creative. Do something homemade. Do something neighbourly.

Actually take some time to celebrate the holiday with your kids in a way that has more to do with family and community and creativity than with buying stuff from corporations that don’t need your money anyway. Get some pumpkins and let the kids decorate them any way they want, with paint and glitter and glue and stickers and anything they can think of (which we did a few days ago). Save, season, and bake the seeds for a healthy snack (which we did yesterday, even though the kids hate them and never eat them). Make some cookies and get the kids to help decorate (which we did this afternoon). I guarantee that your Halloween will be much more fun and much more memorable.

You don’t need to let corporations determine how you celebrate your holidays. You have options. Go ahead and take them.