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Halloween Decisions

My husband says Halloween is the best holiday. You don’t have to buy any gifts and everyone has fun. But I find that Halloween is very complicated– at least with a child in the house. Other holidays fall into one of two categories: Either they are religious, and have rituals which define the day and its activities, or they are simple commemorations, like Columbus Day, with fewer decorations and customs. Religious holidays usually involve family and not friends, and are therefore less complex from a social standpoint. Commemorative days don’t carry the emotional weight of other holidays and the celebrations and activities are more simple.

Halloween, on the other hand, is celebrated with friends and neighbors and can be fraught with comparisons and even competitive. Every greeting at the bus stop, church, or grocery store includes, “What are you gonna be for Halloween?” Like many kids, our daughter has changed her mind several times since we started talking about Halloween– basically since the school year started.

Some of the ideas are simply flights of fancy– first she wanted to be a piece of Candy Corn so we talked about how to make it– orange tights, an orange hat, and somehow we would devise the main part out of fabric. But then, someone told her she was like the Phoenixhaving survived a fire as an infant she had literally risen from the ashes. I made the mistake of searching for Phoenix costumes online, and quickly learned that they are not for children and are more appropriate for Mardi Gras than trick-or-treating.

So I said we could make that costume– the orange tights (if we could find them) could work for a Phoenix as well as a piece of candy corn.But she soon lost interest in that idea and decided to be a Pop Star. Great, I said. That will be easy to make.

But no, her friend had bought a Pop Star costume online and we should do the same. And we needed the Street Dancer Pop Star costume, not the basic Pop Star costume. There are actually quite a few versions of pop star available – from ‘80s Pop Star to Teen Pop Star Diva, even a Korean Pop Star costume (for boys). It’s getting closer to the 31st and I don’t want to wait too long, but I’m afraid she will change her mind again.

The other harrowing aspect of Halloween is who trick-or-treats together. Kids tend to pair off, or go in groups, and friendships are extremely tenuous right now. Most kids have already made plans. We have had to “manage” this process at times.

Two years ago, she had just arrived from overseas and didn’t have a friend group to join. That year, she was Rapunzel from the movieTangled– mainly for the wig of long golden tresses, which drove me crazy because they were constantly knotting and combing it just pulled the hairs out. She literally was tangled! We asked some neighbors if she could join their daughter and thankfully, they obliged.

Last year, she had surgery in October and still had a long scar and dozens of black stitches in her scalp. We talked about costumes that would require wigs or hats, but ultimately she decided to lean in to her situation and went as Frankenstein. She added makeup, another scar to her face, and wore a jacket and pants we found at the Salvation Army store. She constantly amazes us with her ability to deal with life’s challenges head-on. She had made friends with another girl on our street and they trick-or-treated together all evening– parental intervention discouraged!

This year, the girl group in our neighborhood has expanded and the social dynamics are very complicated. They all have friends outside the neighborhood now, and these friends sometimes visit, further complicating the situation. We are still working on the skills required to manage the inevitable hurt feelings which arise from immature comments, bragging about possessions, birthday party invitations which don’t include everyone, and even truthful statements which are nonetheless difficult to hear. For example, “I don’t feel like playing outside right now” can sound like “I don’t want to play with you” and trigger angry words, tears, and escalate to “Well, you’re not my friend anyway."

I’m not sure who our daughter will trick-or-treat with this year or what she will wear. I just want to be helping her into her yet-to-be-determined costume at dusk on the 31st knowing she will walk around the neighborhood with her girl pals and with parents trailing far behind. 


By Liz Smith. Liz has worked across the globe for many of the world's best known apparel brands, including Justice, Chico's, Secret, and Hanes. She has worked closely with dozens of factories in more than 20 countries to ensure that production is of the highest standard. Liz has managed all aspects of garment production, from design through fabric development to sewing and merchandising - so she knows what it takes to make high-quality apparel. Liz is thrilled to share her knowledge about clothes to help discerning customers choose the finest products.