The Triumph of Halloween Over Helicopter Parents

They haven't destroyed Halloween yet!
Sean Locke Photography/Shutterstock

Isn't it great that no matter how hard the killjoys try, no one's ruined Halloween—yet? It's not for lack of trying.

Every year, I get something in my inbox about "alternative, family-friendly ways" to celebrate the holiday. Last week, I got a pitch about one such event for families "who are tired of traditional neighborhood trick-or-treating."

Excuse me, but who are you people who are so bored with trick-or-treating? Barring the possibility of religious objections or the like against this child's holiday, what did Halloween ever do to you?

Halloween is, simply put, one of the few kid-friendly occasions that's triumphed over the tyranny of no-fun helicopter parents. (This is probably why I subversively like it so much.) Holiday concerts have been neutered of holiday-themed music. At birthday parties, in some circles you're considered déclassé if you hand out a goody bag. But in spite of the usual spoilsports who dim the porch lights every October 31st and turn a deaf ear to their doorbells, Halloween marches on. No number of nutrition-conscious parents can stop the hauls of candy being dragged via pillowcase and pumpkin bucket into homes across the country. No nervous Nellies can effectively keep joyful children from running from their grip up to the doors of strangers. No dentist handing out cold hard cash in exchange for sweets can ultimately quiet the annual call of candy corn.

It's sort of a miracle that we even still have Halloween, between safety concerns, cries about childhood obesity, and food allergies. (We have a food allergy in my house. We work around it—we're lucky that we can, but also, we want to.) When a few years ago someone in my town tried to get a trunk-or-treat off the ground, described as "a safe alternative to trick-or-treating door to door," the idea met a swift death. Good. I have nothing against my kid getting candy out of your minivan if you want to give it to us. And I understand these events serve a purposeful substitute for kids who would have to walk for miles otherwise in more spread-out communities to get door to door. But if you're lucky enough to live in a neighborhood where you can trick or treat—and indeed not everyone is so lucky—why end it?

A friend's school superintendent put the kibosh on Halloween parades and parties in school, calling them an unnecessary distraction. This happened several years ago, but many of those parents are still mad. There's something mystifying and a little nutty about their ensuing fury about the injustice of it all, kind of like people who still wear "Team Aniston" shirts today. Yet I also get where they're coming from: Don't mess with Halloween. In a recent Parents poll, 83 percent said schools should host Halloween celebrations. Since the holiday will be on a Saturday this year, I'm curious to see how many schools celebrate or not on Friday.

In the meantime, happy Halloween. Even to you, the woman who answers the door with a platter of fresh fruit and says, "Take as much as you want!" I hope your house doesn't get egged. While you nibble on your leftover oranges, American children will, for one dang day, be sorting candy on their bedroom floors, eating chocolate miniatures until their bellies hurt, and accusing their parents of sneaking Twix bars from their hard-earned stashes after they go to bed. Which of course, we will.

That's Halloween, the way it's supposed to be.

Gail O'Connor is a senior editor at Parents and a mom of three. Some of her kids' favorite costumes in recent years, other than the ones she bought in a bag from Target, were inspired by this Parents story.

Kids describe their most memorable Halloween get-ups and their dress-up plans for trick-or-treating this year.

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