Five things I hate about Halloween and ten things I love about it

For the month of October Listing Toward Forty is Listing Toward Halloween, featuring a variety of Halloween posts including many by guest authors. This post is by Dawn Patton.

5 Things I Hate about Halloween

1. Halloween and "trick or treat" are no longer synonmous. Trick-or-treat isn't even on October 31st anymore most of the time. This probably depends on where you live, but where I am (Pittsburgh suburbs), trick-or-treat is usually the Thursday before Halloween. Last year, it got moved all over the place because of Hurricane Sandy.

2. Sexy costumes. I am raising two girls (and one boy). Enough said.

3. The co-opting of Halloween by adults. I complain about this annually. I think Halloween is a kids' holiday. Dressing up in fantastical costumes, collecting candy from strangers, running around in the evening with a parent with a flashlight -- all of that is great. Sexy costumes and getting your drunk on... far less appealing to me. I stopped trick-or-treating in 8th grade. I avoided the annual bacchanalia some of my friends made of it as adults. I've only started enjoying it again since I had kids.

Dawn Patton Halloween

The author

4. My mother hand-made a number of my childhood costumes. Sewed them from scratch. For a couple of years now, I've thought that I could make my kids' costumes -- maybe not sewing per se, but that's why fabric glue was invented, right? For three years in a row now I've told myself I'm going to make my kids' costumes (last year I even shopped for supplies). Then I run out of time, and don't make the costumes I say I'm going to. I punt pretty much every year. Sorry, kids.

5. Treat bags for classroom parties. I hate making these, mostly because we're talking 24 x 3 here. I have limited myself to one candy treat and one non-candy treat -- I look for stickers usually; everyone loves stickers -- the last couple of years. And the girls are old enough to help. The boy is not.

 10 Things I Love about Halloween

1. Chocolate, which I steal from my children's candy stashes with impunity. I, personally, love "fun" size bars, because when I want chocolate, I usually just need a taste to sate my craving. I'm weird I know. One or two bite-size Milky Ways, and I'm totally happy.

2. That my children's costumes are worn multiple times. There's trick or treat, classroom Halloween parties, and the "Boo Bash" at my children's school. Spending $15 to $25 on a costume isn't as painful when you know the kids are going to wear it more than once.

3. Candy sorting. I still love the thrill of going through all the candy my kids bring home. I sort the stuff into little piles according to type, put aside the chips and drinks (to pack in lunches), and leave my children about 30 percent of their haul. Some of it gets donated (my children's school puts together little packages for the Food Bank); some of it goes to work with me. For my co-workers, of course!

4. Handing out candy. I love sitting at home while my husband runs around the neighborhood with the kids, waiting for the knock on the door, handing out handfuls of candy, and seeing the costumes kids (or kids' parents) have picked out.

Dawn Patton Jack-o-Lanterns5. Carving pumpkins. When our schedules allow, we have pumpkin carving parties. Even if we don't get together with family or friends, we still make a production of it -- setting aside the time, picking out the designs, roasting seeds.

Dawn Patton Jack-o-LanternsWe use a book of patterns (like this) that are ubiquitous this time of year. You can find them anywhere, usually with tools included. My husband picks the hardest pattern in the book, and I generally pick the easiest. My kids pick easy ones, too, because they know they're going to have to poke all the little holes in the design.

They always turn out awesome.

6. That trick-or-treat has a beginning and end. Where I live, going door-to-door goes from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. I'm a planner, and I like knowing what to expect. I like to know when things start and when things end. At 8 p.m., I close my door, turn off my porch light, put my sugared up kids to bed (unsuccessfully), and sort through their candy.

7. Full-size candy bars. While I enjoy fun- and bite-sized candy, let's face it: for a kid, nothing is more thrilling than getting a whole entire candy bar to yourself. I am judicious with these when my children get them, saving them for special occasions or "movie nights". And I usually hide them from my husband (sorry, babe).

8. How excited my kids get about Halloween. The careful consideration they bring to their costumes. How wound up they are the day of trick-or-treating. How wound up they are on the day of their classroom parties. The enthusiasm they bring to Halloween is surpassed only by their excitement for Christmas.

9. Non-candy treats (as long as they aren't toothbrushes. Don't be a Halloween Scrooge!). I love when my kids get chips, pretzels, pencils, stickers, spider rings, and so on. I'm not crazy about Huggies, the drink not the diaper, but I will accept them. Halloween isn't about health food. I like non-candy treats because it's less I have to pack up and haul away. It's stuff I can use in lunches. It's fun stuff we can decorate with!

10. Did I mention chocolate? I let my children have their share of Starbursts and Laffy Taffy, pixie sticks and Lemonheads. My husband usually bogarts the Lemonheads. But I get my first pick of the chocolate. In my opinion, it's the only candy worth indulging in.

Dawn Patton has been making parenting look hard since 2004. She writes about parenting issues at Red Pen Mama, and is on Twitter @redpenmamapgh. She lives outside of Pittsburgh with her husband, three children, and no pets. And she'd like to keep it that way, thank you very much.

All Halloween posts from this series can be found here.

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