Red alert! Earlier this week I got a call that my town had rescheduled Halloween. The freak blizzard in the Northeast knocked down trees and power lines all over town. Although it wasn’t bad enough to cancel school, Halloween must be sacrificed. The streets were dark. There was an inch of snow on the grass. Parents were nervous. I got it. I’m a mom, too. I worried (still do) every time my kids walked out the door. But call off trick-or-treating? The magical day of the year kids can have all the candy they want? The one day when parents actually have “permission” to suspend the rules on eating junk? Imagine if Bing Crosby rescheduled Christmas because of a little snow? We’d all still be singing in the rain. Seems to me that houses lit by lanterns and candles set the perfect mood for a spooky soiree.
The town officials were so adamant about rescheduling that the robo-call didn’t just ask parents—it strongly urged them—to keep their kids inside and celebrate Halloween next Saturday. Am I the only one who thinks this is crazy? Have we become so used to living in the moment that we can now change dates whenever we want? Suppose it rains next Saturday? Can we quickly move Halloween to Sunday? Have we become so over-protective of our kids that we can’t imagine letting them walk from suburban lawn to lawn without high beams? Has no one ever heard of flashlights?
How often we talk about today’s kids spending all their time inside glued to screens. How they lack opportunities for imaginative play. How their time is too scheduled; their playdates too structured. Halloween delivers a real-life antidote that sitting inside watching a rerun of Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin can’t possibly provide. Some kids plan their costumes for months. They actually look forward to running at top speed from house to house (okay, there’s a reward at the end of each sidewalk); and they travel in social groups with friends. Who knows what fun lurks around the next corner?
I see the real danger not in trick-or-treating on a dark (but clear and warm) night, but in blithely changing the order of the day to suit another agenda. Kids—as well as their parents—need to learn to re-adjust, not rearrange. In this case, maybe that means staying in one neighborhood, carrying a flashlight, wearing boots, or avoiding blocks with no power.
Halloween is October 31, not November 1 or 5, or some other date. So I still got a bowl full of Reeses peanut butter cups to sit by my lantern-lit door ready for all those Disney princesses, Angry Birds, scary witches and mini firemen to stop by.