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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Why I like Halloween 

Its the only kids celebration we have that actually belongs to kids.
Everything else, from Christmas to Valentines Day to Thanksgiving, even to Rememberance Day, has been taken over by adults and organized within an inch of its life.
But Halloween, around here at least, is done by the kids. For the most part, they figure out their own costumes -- though the mothers insist it be large enough that kids can wear their winter coats underneath if need be -- and they do their own decorating, carving pumpkins or pasting paper witches on the window or hanging up kleenex ghosts in the trees. And I think this is just great. When our kids were little, we deliberately did NOT get into the more elaborate house decorating that a few of the other neighbours did, just because we wanted to keep it simple.
And the kids loved it -- our two talked about their costumes from the day school started. Our kids and their friends would set up hugely complicated scenarios about who would meet who and when and where, to go trick-or-treating together. They got into fierce discussions about which houses gave the best stuff, and particularly whether they could get away with making a second stop at the rich houses, the ones of incredible prolificacy where they scorned the "halloween"-sized candies and gave out whole chocolate bars, or standard-sized bags of chips. I did do some basic costume-sewing -- the black cape got used for years, as did the pirate hat -- but basically my husband and I deliberately limited our role in Halloween to finding the candles for the pumpkins and saying typically grumpy parental things like "Now don't you kids eat too much candy before you go to bed, and make sure you brush your teeth!!!"
I was reminded of all this when I read this story about a Long Island private school principal who cancelled the spring prom because indulgent, social-climbing parents made their children's prom into an expensive nightmare: "It is not primarily the sex/booze/drugs that surround this event, as problematic as they might be; it is rather the flaunting of affluence, assuming exaggerated expenses, a pursuit of vanity for vanity's sake -- in a word, financial decadence. Each year it gets worse - becomes more exaggerated, more expensive, more emotionally traumatic. We are withdrawing from the battle and allowing the parents full responsibility. (Kellenberg) is willing to sponsor a prom, but not an orgy." Good for the principal.

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