2020: between a global pandemic and resulting economic devastation, homeschool/virtual school, trying to work from home, social upheaval, violence and protests, and election year with all its own sensitivities and frustrations, the past eight months have been a struggle for many, many families.
As debates about public safety, social distancing, mask use, and how to best resume daily activities rages on in the public sphere, our family has quietly decided to try to live as normal as possible. For us, that means attending school and participating in regular, seasonal activities when possible. Including trick-or-treating.
Yes, we are trick-or-treating this year.
Given all that has happened this year, I am fully supportive of my children to go trick or treating. While they are aware of the COVID pandemic and know about germs, we are also aware of the ways we can stay healthy and safe. They see mom and dad (and everyone else!) wearing masks in public spaces. And our children are unaware that there is a nationwide debate ongoing on the status of Halloween. The pandemic has exacerbated our nation’s mental health crisis, sending anxiety and depression rates soaring, and children are not immune to these emotions and concerns.
Of course, every family has to decide what is best for them and what they feel comfortable with participating in.
But our family is choosing to trick or treat. We are back in school and daycare, and mom and dad are working. I wear a mask when I’m in close proximity to my colleagues, teachers, or school personnel. Given that we have safely navigated returns to work, summer camp, and regular school, our family feels that Halloween festivities can also be managed safely.
Here are our justifications for celebrating a traditional Halloween.
- Safety protections are an intrinsic part of many costumes. My boys will be dressed as ninjas from Netflix’s Ninjago series, so the masks and gloves are already part of the costume. Built-in protection is a win-win.
- For us, trick or treating is family time. We have a route through our neighborhood, and we know how to time our walk with all the stops so that we aren’t out way past bedtime/meltdown time. Usually, we’ve got a stroller or a wagon with us that helps with little ones getting tired as the night continues.
- Halloween is on a Saturday! This is not COVID-specific but as the mom of three children ages 6 and under, I’m ridiculously excited about this fact. We can have a nice, relaxing lead into the evening, enjoying an early dinner and costume preparation without the afterschool chaos and rush. Also a bonus for not having to worry about getting up for school the next day. We can take our time visiting the neighborhood and seeing all the awesome decorations our neighbors have put up. Normally, I’d start trying to wrangle everyone to bed while they’re too excited and wired from the sugar rush. I’ll probably still be more than ready for them to go to bed, but there won’t be the extra layer of anxiety about not getting enough sleep.
- We have gorgeous weather. Not everyone will be as lucky to experience a warm and dry Halloween but here in South Louisiana, this is the best time of the year. The weather is beautiful, and Halloween is rarely cold or rainy. Folks tend to spend time outside in their yards or driveways greeting the trick-or-treaters. As someone who grew up in upstate New York, I absolutely love that we aren’t bundled up for this. I remember layering sweatpants underneath costumes and wearing gloves for warmth rather than for a costume; one miserable year, we went from house to house in my mom’s car as it poured down.
- It’s fun! Frankly, after the year we’ve all had, we could use a little normalcy and fun. In our area, Halloween is a wonderful, fun, event with tons of activities. This year is a bit different since many of our normal activities are canceled. But we’ve still been able to enjoy pumpkin picking, looking at decorations, and making Halloween crafts at home. When we moved here three years ago, I discovered the love south Louisianans have for celebrating life. From Mardi Gras to music and food, football and family, everything is an occasion to celebrate. We may be a bit extra down here, but that is part of the fun.
Trick-or-treating can be done safely, just as many of the other activities that have resumed around the country like school, sports, shopping, and dining out. If you’re undecided about trick or treating, the CDC has listed some ways to make the activity COVID-safe while still having fun.
And no matter what you decide for your family, it is your decision and the best decision. I hope you can still keep the holiday spirit during these strange times.