As a kid, my parents encouraged us to make our own Halloween costumes, and rarely would allow the store-bought plastic ones. The only store costume I ever had was a Darth Vader costume. Otherwise, I was a race car driver and a wizard and all sorts of things. My favorite was probably the year I was an old-school radio, wearing a huge box decorated with wood-grained shelf paper. It made for a long evening, but it was worth it.
I remember the Halloween parades at elementary and middle school. I also remember the one year we were all forbidden from trick or treating because of the Tylenol scare. And I remember the year my own kids had their Halloween delayed a week because of the damage from Hurricane Sandy.
I get that the world is growing more and more politically correct. I get that schools are having to make tough decisions about what can and should be part of the instructional day. I get that candy and sugary parties are no longer welcome in our schools. And I realize that Halloween doesn’t rank up there on the school priority list these days. So I can understand, as the New Haven Register reports, that some schools are looking to do away entirely with celebrating Halloween and having those beloved costume parades of my childhood.
But to ban because it discriminates against low-income students? To ban because of fear of nut allergies? Or to ban because a secular holiday has “religious overtones?” Seriously?
Perhaps my favorite, or most disheartening, quote from the New Haven Register story is that one school district in Washington State did away with Halloween celebrations “because children dressed in costumes might often real witches.”
The spokeswoman from Puyallup, Washington even went so far as to say, “Witches with pointy noses and things like that are not respective symbols of the Wiccan religion and so we want to be respectful of that.”
How can we lament our kids losing their childhoods because we are so focused on testing and student achievement in the schools, while at the same time stripping kids of the joys of something as simple as Halloween, fearing it may be offensive to the Wiccan religion? Would it be acceptable to dress as Glenda the Good Witch, rather than the Wicked Witch?
Eduflack can look at Halloween costumes and see priest costumes and Pope costumes and even “sexy nun” costumes, and not feel that my Catholic religion is threatened. While I may wonder why someone would want to dress as a sexy nun, doing so isn’t an affront to my religion. It is Halloween.
We need to let kids be kids. On October 31st, the Eduflack household will be handing out full-sized candy bars to any kid who shows up at our door in costume. Extra treats go to those have a particularly creative, homemade costume. The day before, I will be at the edu-daughter’s elementary school to see their costume parade. And I will do it with a smile on my face, and a few fun-sized Snickers in my pocket.
Yes, sometimes Halloween is really just about the costumes and the candy. It doesn’t have to be more than that.