April 12th, 2024

Halloween a night for the kids to have fun

By Lethbridge Herald on October 27, 2023.

Al Beeber

It’s that time of year again – Halloween. A chance for little kids to play dress-up and go door-to-door trick or treating.

Of course, a minority among us will claim Halloween has something to do with devil worship and it’s evil. And they’ll be praying for the salvation of everyone who participates in it. 

Ya, OK. Sure. Not.

Kids deserve a chance to have fun and Halloween is one of those events that appeal to the young and young-at-heart alike. It’s a night for kids to put on costumes and enjoy friendships on an evening of of fun and frolic. And this weekend, the adults among us will be having their fun with their Halloween parties, too.

And let’s face it, even we older folks like to have a bit of fun once in awhile.

My earliest memories of Halloween date back decades ago to the town of Westlock north of Edmonton where our family lived briefly. My mom, who had often told me she wanted a girl, dressed me up as one at Halloween. It had to have been one of my first experiences trick or treating and I remember the shocked responses of people answering the door when they realized I was a boy. I remember not being thrilled about the idea but when you’re little, who argues with your mom? And I remember feeling humiliated – not that I knew what that word was – after trick-or-treating. I was a shy kid, who was afraid to do things other boys were doing, but I definitely knew I wasn’t a girl.

I had no self-esteem when I was young – I’d look in the mirror and see a giant forehead and feel I was ugly. But despite that and my shyness I tried to fit in despite the challenges. 

One of those was physical – while other kids were riding two-wheelers around the block and climbing trees, I was trying not to fall off a stationary tricycle or trip down stairs. To this day, family, friends and co-workers are admonishing me to be careful – every single day. 

That first experience with Halloween is something I’ve never forgotten. But thankfully, other years were much more memorable. Regardless of weather, my friends and I would head out in the dark of night in whatever town we were living in and we had a blast.

Halloween was about candy and fun, there was never any religious connotations to it. To tell kids that is ridiculous.

 It’s about playing dress-up and letting imaginations run wild. And my generation had the privilege of enjoying Halloween without parents tagging along, which I kind of think has to ruin the fun because today’s children live in an era where there is fear of predators and crime and people driving down suburban streets like they’re practising for a Formula 1 race.

The world is constantly changing and Halloween exemplifies that and that change isn’t just negative. 

The  variety and style of costumes and masks now is amazing. No longer do children have to try breathing or seeing through tiny holes in flimsy plastic masks that on a cold night felt like they were freezing to skin. 

Dressing up for Halloween has almost become theatre with the amount of creativity that goes into it.

And for parents chaperoning the little ones, it can be fun, too.

When the neighbourhood kids were little, we’d all walk together on Halloween night catching up with friends on the block and we made a fantastic night of it. While the kids carried bags, the parents walked with coffee and Baileys in hand.

One year, the Northern Lights lived up to their name, filling the sky with swirling shades of colour – a Halloween I’ll never forget.

With the dogs, Halloween can get a bit hairy trying to keep them from the door, doing their own scares. But with Rio and his massive bark now gone, his voice won’t be heard this year and Ben will likely likely hide in a bedroom as he does almost all day and night nowadays.

Izzy, however, could be interesting. She loves kids and everyone else for that matter; like Rio, she’s also got a bark that could almost wake the dead so Tuesday night will be intriguing to say the least. But to prevent her from running down the stairs to greet all the visitors, I’ve got a doggy gate to set up which will keep her upstairs and not only away from the trick-or-treaters, but also the treats themselves.

Izzy, in her four months with us, has not discovered anything she won’t chew. Shoes, sandals, inhalers, bedspreads, pillows, cardboard, reading glasses, a wireless phone charger – anything within her reach are fair game for Izzy’s curiosity.

So the house is being Halloween-proofed to keep people and pets safe and happy. And depending on the weather, I’ll probably plop down on a chair on the front step outside and just hand out the goodies rather than running in and out until the streets empty of little people and their voices.

Even pets get into the act at Halloween, though and on Saturday Riverstone dog park will be the site of a Halloween costume event. I covered it a couple of years ago with Ben who is getting a bit standoffish in his old age. But Izzy has a special costume ready to wear as she romps with her buddies if I make it and the odds are unfortunately I won’t. 

With the snow this week, the park Saturday could turn into a bit of a mud bath when temperatures rise which will make the day even more fun as the dogs splash and roll in the muck.

Halloween, according to a Google search, has its roots in the Celtic festival called Samhain which was a pagan religious celebration that welcomed the harvest at summer’s end. People would light bonfires and don costumes to keep away ghosts.’

Our reporter Theodora Macleod has written a fantastic piece on Samhain which readers don’t want to miss. It dispels the myths of evil that some people are focused upon.

But every party has a pooper, right? That will never change – unlike the creative costumes that trick-or-treaters don every year. And I’m sure everyone waiting for their door bells to ring will be looking forward to seeing what is most popular and interesting this year.

Here’s hoping the weather co-operates on Tuesday.


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