Thursday, October 3, 2013

Staff picks: Halloween Traditions

Once October arrives, it seems like the rest of the year just flies by. Between Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, it's easy to feel overwhelmed the last three months of the year. That's why we love holiday traditions- they help ground us during a busy time and remind us to have fun and enjoy time with our families.

Megan: Our son is 4 years old, so we are still building traditions- simple ones like painting pumpkins and making Halloween themed foods, and events like a local school carnival. Last year, I took him to Red Butte Gardens After Dark and I think that's a keeper. One that we started before we had our son was hosting a family Halloween party. It's an easy way to see all my nephews and nieces' costumes all at the same time. The Halloween party in 2008 holds special significance to me because we announced our pregnancy at the party in a word search activity. Seeing as we had been married five years and I was the last sibling to have a child, it was big news. Just thinking about the party makes me excited to host another one!

Meg: When I was little, we always had chili on Halloween night. Unfortunately, I wasn't a fan of chili, so having to eat it before I could go trick or treating was kind of a bummer. But then we got to eat doughnuts and drink apple cider before going out and getting massive amounts of candy in costumes my mom and I made together, so it was all good.
As a college student, my love of dressing up resurfaced, usually because I could take trips to the thrift store with my roommates and invent ridiculous costumes. Now I have my own child, and after a store bought costume last year (I was afraid of making a costume for a three-month-old) I'm kind of excited to try to make her a costume the way my mom made costumes for me.

Lis: Growing up, my parents would let us sort through our candy after trick-or-treating and eat a pretty good amount that night. We'd see how much of each kind we got and trade the ones we didn't like, I always gave my parents anything with coconut. Then they would take our bags and put them up high and only let us have a certain amount each day. At the time, I didn't appreciate it too much, but I'm glad they did because then I never had a stomachache from too much sugar like the other kids. They would always let us have several pieces of candy every day until it ran out, but usually we stopped when all the good candy was gone. I think it's a tradition I'd like to carry on with my own kids.

Cara: I don't have Halloween traditions I've continued with as an adult--perhaps just a random costume party here or there, but as a kid we had some things we did every year. We'd find a costume of some kind (usually one that was handed down from someone at church, something we made, or, as you can see below, the occasional drug store plastic mask/vest/pants combo that was all the rage in the late '80s/early '90s). In elementary school we would take part of the afternoon, don our costumes, and have a "parade" in a few blocks around the school neighborhood. In Iowa we have Beggar's Night and Halloween. Trick or Treating happens on a different night than Halloween, and many communities think it's safer for the kids because others are less likely to pull pranks or act irresponsibly if it's not officially Halloween (pranksters will save their shenanigans for the exact date, apparently). On Beggar's Night we would only go to houses of people we knew, and since we lived out in the country (a good 15 minutes outside of town), we would pack into the car and drive in to visit our friends we knew from church or day care. Our last stop would always be my grandparents' house and their neighbors would come over with their kids and get candy bars and apples. We would play, sometimes go through our candy bags, and either 1) get so wound up and excited that we couldn't sleep and on the drive home look up out at the moon and joke about how when one of my older brothers was just learning to talk he would always call the crescent moon "Banana! Banana!" or 2) be so exhausted from the day that we'd zonk out on the drive home. We made some great memories as kids--and it wasn't about the perfect costume or the biggest candy haul--something special happened on those nights visiting my grandparents.
Ummm... Maybe it would be a good idea if no one mentioned to my brothers that I posted this picture...
Melissa: Halloween has always been a favorite holiday of mine. For the majority of my childhood, Meg and I would trick or treat together. In Utah, by October 31st it's pretty cold so one of my least favorite Halloween traditions was dressing up in a costume that I'd meticulously selected at least a month before and then being bundled up in my snow coat in order to go out and trick or treat. We'd usually go out with our dads while the moms passed out candy. Now that I'm a mom, I like to make Halloween a pretty big deal. We trunk or treat at our church, attend preschool parties and neighborhood costume parties, and then my friends and I drive to the rich neighborhood so that our kids can collect good candy for the parents to eat  have fun looking at all the big haunted houses and decked out yards. Also, now that we live in Las Vegas, we can go out sans winter outerwear so that people can actually admire the beautiful costumes my children have picked out. Halloween isn't complete without watching scary movies and fun Disney Cartoons including THIS, THIS, THIS, and of course THIS. One tradition I've carried into adulthood is roasting the pumpkin seeds just like my mom did. We carve the pumpkins as a family (my husband does the dirty work and we live vicariously through him) and then I clean, season, and roast the pumpkin seeds. That reminds me... I need to buy some Worcestershire sauce...

Jill: The Halloween "tradition" from my youth that stands out more than any other can be summed up in two words: Dad Tax. Every year as my five sisters and I trudged home from a long evening of trick-or-treating, bags bulging with our sugary haul, my Dad would be waiting by the door, ready to enact one of his favorite family ordinances- the Dad Tax. Basically, he got to go through our bags of candy and pick out his favorites. My father has a bigger sweet tooth than any ten year old on this planet (a trait I unfortunately inherited), and I have to applaud his tenacity for finding a way to rake in the chocolate long after his trick-or-treating days had ended. The Dad Tax lasted for as long as I was in the house, at least (and my younger sisters assure me it continued after my departure), and I have a feeling that if any of my nephews move close enough for my parents to go trick-or-treating with them, a Grandpa Tax will be born. Basically, my dad is a genius and I am greatly looking forward to the day my own little Bean is old enough to trick-or-treat. Mom Tax, here I come!

Lindsey: I think the thing my family really stuck to each year was the actual Halloween costumes.  I love coming up with a costume and spending the month of October collecting pieces and sewing while watching season appropriate movies.  When we were little though, we recycled the same 8 or so costumes.  There was Red Riding Hood, Strawberry Shortcake, a baby wolf (to go with red riding hood), a wizard (blue robes, pointy hat, stars and moons wizard), a witch hat, an indian princess, a couple old dance costumes and one store-bought clown costume.  That's it.  If you wanted something different, you figured it out with what we had.  I was a mime one year (face paint and black clothes).  My brother and I were both Strawberry Shortcake/Red Riding Hood in fifth grade (the costumes became one when pieces of each began to disappear).  And, of course, when all else failed, you put on someone else's regular clothes and went as a bum or a pregnant mom in curlers.  As much as I love making costumes, I love that because they are home-made, they are easily reusable and more versatile.  I love that we still have these costumes for our kids to wear, although, admittedly, they look "well-loved." My favorite costume, by far, was the year (maybe two) when I was Super Girl.  The best part of this "costume" is that it is really just a pair of underoos/pajamas that I wore nearly every day till I outgrew them.  Halloween just meant it was more acceptable because everyone else had on a costume.

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