At one point last night, while teaching my son the subtle nuances that differentiate Milky Way from 3 Musketeers, I began reflecting upon the various Halloween schools of thought. I grew up with costumes made by loving hands at home and carried a pillowcase for candy, and was slightly horrified to realize that my kids had costumes from Target and carried plastic injection-molded candy baskets.
There are clear Halloween dichotomies, and without realizing it, you probably subscribe to one or the other on the basis of deeply ingrained principles:
Decorations: Storebought vs. Homemade
Costumes: Classic (cowboy, princess, doctor) vs. Merchandised (Power Rangers, Buzz Lightyear)
Trick-or-treating: Quintessential neighborhood experience vs. Maximum candy procurement
Pumpkin carving: Rudimentary buck-toothed smile vs. Martha Stewart-esque designs
Scary themes: Witches, black cats, cute ghosts vs. Bloody, maggot-eaten gorefests
Candy consumption: Eat all at once vs. Dole out over weeks (remember that scent of month-old Tootsie Rolls?)
If you think back, many of these preferences stem from your own trick-or-treating experience as a kid. Like toothpaste brand loyalty, these preferences develop very early on and aren’t likely to change.
Of course, as any working parent can tell you, sometimes form loses out to function. Parenting beliefs don’t always coincide with your parenting reality. So while I believe in healthy breakfasts, on the day after Halloween, only a full-size Snickers bar can counteract the sugar crash.