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Kathy Tofflemire, Published October 20 2009

Parenting Perspectives: Halloween has changed over years, but still fun for all ages


It’s that time of year again – ghosts and goblins and candy corn.

I enjoy Halloween. I like seeing all the kids dressed up in their costumes, and I admire those folks who go all out to decorate their yards with monsters and ghouls and other creepy things.

I miss the witch who looked as if she was flying across a south Fargo yard on her broomstick. I don’t know if she finally flew away, or if the homeowners moved.

That being said, I haven’t handed out a single Tootsie Roll to the youngsters in my neighborhood in the 11 years since I moved back to Fargo.

In the few of those years that I wasn’t working, I spent Halloween night with my grandsons, beginning with my older one, who, at 6 months, was the cutest Eeyore on the planet.

He went on to be, among other things, a pumpkin, a lion, a dinosaur.

His younger brother has been an elephant (his cutest-on-the-planet entry), a Dalmatian, a lion and his favorite cartoon character, Scooby-Doo (twice).

I don’t remember my daughter’s costumes as a child. I only know that on her first trick-or-treat experience at 19 months, she quickly figured out the object of our travels and encouraged me to move on to the next stop.

In high school, she made Pebbles and Bam Bam costumes for herself and her boyfriend, and even found a big plastic bone to put in her hair.

Before the boys’ births, she and their father usually hosted a costume party for Halloween, with extreme decorating.

During those times, she portrayed a pirate wench; Chucky – the doll from the horror movies; and the Grinch, in a green suit she sewed from scratch. While pregnant with her first son, she dressed as a particularly disturbing accident victim.

This year, while Mom takes the boys around the neighborhood, their father will be handing out candy. And most trick-or-treaters will approach the house with trepidation because he’ll likely again be dressed in something creepy, ready to delight in scaring the daylights out of the older children.

I remember, as a young adult, dressing up as a little old lady for a costume party. I raided my parents’ attic for the requisite dowdy attire and used by grandfather’s cane and my grandmother’s wire-rimmed glasses. I had recently appeared in a community theater production during which I learned how to age my face with makeup. I remember the shock I felt when I looked in the mirror … and saw my mother.

I don’t recall what I wore for Halloween as a child, I just remember going off with my friends carrying a pillow case – something large enough to handle as much sweet stuff as possible. Every year we expanded our trick-or-treat route by a few square blocks. We ventured into the dark unattended. It was the 1950s.

It was “Beaver Cleaver” time, and you might find homemade cookies or a caramel apple or a popcorn ball in your bag. Now even commercially wrapped candy is inspected by parents.

But like every generation, my grandsons will return home on Halloween night and sort their bounty, separating their favorites and doing a little trading with each other.

I’ll be working again this year, but I could dress up as a little old lady. And, sadly, I wouldn’t need a bit of makeup.

Kathy Tofflemire is a copy editor at The Forum. Readers can reach her at (701) 241-5514 or ktofflemire@forumcomm.com