Let There Be Play!


I’ve been thinking of the little children I saw over the weekend who took delight in Halloween, including my own grand-babies.

Throughout all of the years of my life, I’ve never bothered to research the word, Halloween. Sure, I’ve heard whispers of evil stories associated with October 31st.  At movie theatres, I’ve seen trailers for spooky picture shows, and in stores there are always the covers of horror books.   Still, seeing the excitement of children in anticipation of the holiday, I always wondered,  “How could that be?”

Long ago, when my own two boys were barely into preschool and kindergarten, my oldest had recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  Life for children and families was very different from it is today.  Insulin was our only defense and rules were rigid in order to keep children safe and healthy.  No sugar what-so-ever was ever allowed unless it was an emergency.  So what to do about Halloween?

Motherly instincts told me that Halloween wasn’t about good or evil.  Not inside the innocent minds of children.  I didn’t believe it was about popping melted chocolate into wee and waiting mouths.  No, in my mind, Halloween was all about traditions hidden with imaginations while taking part in play.  Behind eyes of brown or green or blue, everyone could see….

Within my mind, Halloween was about dreaming and dress-up.  Being cast in a new role to play a character on a neighborhood stage in front of a backdrop of orange and black. Painted faces laughing in mirrors of glass from deep within skinny bellies before snapshots were taken in kitchens next to siblings of the same.  Families together with bowls of candy.  Enough treats for everyone who might ring a bell.

My son living with diabetes dreamed of the same tradition as every other child.  He donned a clown suit of red and yellow, learned his line of “Trick-or-Treat” and went off to wait in the wings before taking part in his play.  Upon returning home, his face was all aglow at his performance.  He and his brother emptied brimming plastic pumpkins for all to see.  One-by-one tiny fingers counted each treat, tossing M&M ‘s together with peanut butter cups to the side for emergencies.  So proud my little boy was to show me his pile of loot!

Soon my husband came out of the next room.  He dug deep into side pockets, pulling out a couple of bills of green plus a few rounds of silver.  Our little boy clown jumped up and down..down and up.  So excited he was!  “Tomorrow we’ll go shopping,” I said, squeezing him tight.  That set a new stage for our Halloween every year thereafter.  No matter what, our son would always be cast in the annual Halloween play.

For young children everywhere, Halloween is all about tradition, expectation and imagination.  Taking part in play!  There is no doubt in my mind this still holds true today.

Hoping everyone together with their cast and crew enjoyed your own Halloween play!

Clapping my hands for you!