Now that our son is four he was well aware of Halloween. He had determined early on what kind of costume he wanted and which super hero he felt possessed most of the same qualities as he. As it turned out he decided very much on his own that he would be Dash Incredible and that papa and I would be “Incredibles” also. In previous years we never did the Halloween thing as he was too young and had not been exposed to candy. But not this year, he had figured it all out.
A good friend of mine was kind enough to introduce me to the “Halloween Goblin”- a mystical spirit of Halloween who loves to eat the candy that children collect. Children work really hard trick or treating to score as much candy as possible; however, instead of eating the candy they have the option to sacrifice the loot to the Halloween Goblin. If pleased with the “take” the Halloween Goblin will exchange the candy in the middle of the night while the child sleeps for a “special present”. (Something that you know the child has been yearning for.) My friend has used this story on her young children for many years, and while she says the stakes have gotten higher and higher every year, the children have still been more than willing to give up the candy in lieu of said gift.
So for a few months leading up to Halloween we spent time building up the Halloween Goblin and sure enough by Halloween, Tino was telling all his friends about the great spirit and how he was going to collect as much candy as possible to give to the Goblin in exchange for a toy. I have to tell you it worked beautifully and we parents came out on top! We did not have to coerce or take away any candy, we did not have to restrict him from eating any of it, he just came home and handed over the bag, eager to go to sleep to see if he had sufficed the spirit of the Halloween Goblin.
Brilliant or shameful, please don’t judge me too hard. Parents have been lying to children, in the world of make believe from the dawn of ages, from Santa Claus to the Ester Bunny and parents have been using these good hearted kind characters to get children to behave and participate in the most manipulative ways. “You better watch out, you better not cry, you better be good, I’m telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town..” As children get older the lies become bigger more intricate, and more entangled as to try and outsmart the growing child getter wiser each holiday.
Oh sure it starts out quite innocently and magical as you lay the first foundations of the Holiday Season, the anticipation of Santa Claus, leaving out milk and cookies, and filling the tree and stocking with gifts in the middle of the night. I have to admit that first Christmas that Valentino woke on his own to run out and see if Santa had come in the night was pure magic, it filled my eyes with tears. I felt my child’s heart and soul become full of belief, belief in magic and magical things, it’s really precious. He believes in the Sandman who helps him sleep and allows him not to have bad dreams. He believes in Fairy Dust, Fairies and Pixie Dust. He thinks Peter Pan is real and will one day take him to Neverland. We’ve even gone so far as to tell him that Jellybeans are Easter Bunny poop? I know it all seems so innocent and every parent has done this, so my guilt is only slight.
I grew up different we did not celebrate Christmas because we were Buddhist; however, my father and I were born in December so instead we celebrated our birthdays. We never had a Christmas tree in our home but my father’s staff would decorate a tree in our restaurant to make the place seem festive. I use to love watching them decorate the tree. Even without the make believe stories it was still magical. I didn’t wear costumes and go trick or treating, we did not have Easter baskets and color eggs, this was all stuff I grew up completely ignorant of. Yet I felt as a child I was really missing out on something that others seemed to really enjoy. I remember seeing the Santa Claus on the street ringing that bell with the bucket collecting change, and thinking how could Christmas be so great if this guy had no money and had to beg on the streets for it?
I know at some point in the future, I am going to have to come clean with our son, and explain that while some of the characters he has come to believe in are not real in theory but their heart and intent for joy and good will most certainly is. That bringing good tidings of great joy to all men (and women) is one of the best things you can do. That peace on earth is possible when we remember the spirit of giving. Easter is about new life, and the resurrection of our dreams and new found joy, and that hope really does spring eternal. Halloween enables us to conger up the make believe in each of us, to come out of ourselves a little bit and dispel the fears of the dark side, or revel in it even if it’s just for a bit. I call it “dramatic play” for adults. We’re not trying to “trick” him we are trying to “treat” him to some of the more playful times in a child’s life.