COVID tries to steal Halloween

It’s Halloween and my neighbour is putting up her Christmas lights. If I had any happy pills I’d take them.

My thoughts today are especially with young kids and their parents. On top of everything else they’ve experienced these past many months—home schooling, closed schools and playgrounds, online learning, separation from friends— Halloween is especially nightmarish this year.

Scrooge may have stolen Christmas and now COVID and its wicked variants are trying to take the fun out of Halloween.

At one time, cute to creepy costumes were made of stuff you had around the house—cowboy hats, white sheets, wigs, makeup, Aunt Mary’s nurses’s uniform, Dad’s volunteer fire department hat….

Today, the stores have aisles of pricey costumes and lineups for the latest hot items in Disney villains, Harry Potter heroes and PAW Patrol stars.

But coming up with the right costume is only a small part of the Halloween challenge.

In these pandemic days, the government has come up with a set of rules and regulations for the proper practice of Halloween.

According to the health and safety experts at Queen’s Park, trick and treaters (both the givers and takers in this annual ritual) should adhere to the following guidelines:

Wear medical masks---costume masks are no substitutes.

No crowding doorsteps.

Get your stuff and quickly move on.

Give out only purchased and packaged treats.

Keep interactions between householders and kids brief

No singing or shouting for treats.

What’s next? A Ministry of Halloween and a government approved list of costumes that are politically correct and free of any suggestion of sexism, racism, and culture appropriation?

I don’t remember singing for my treats—and we certainly didn’t shout for them--- but I do have warm memories of lining up with a lot of other kids who knew that Mrs. Mandoles would be handing out homemade taffy apples and they’d run out before the night was over. Pieces of homemade fudge wrapped in waxed paper was another favourite. Kids get to know which houses offer the best stuff.

Those innocent and safe days are gone, of course, long before the pandemic threw a real wrench into much simpler times enjoyed by earlier generations.

A poll conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies found that only 44 per cent of respondents intend to open their doors to kids this Halloween. That shows how many of us are scared of the virus---or just plain scared to open our door to strangers at night. And maybe some can’t afford to hand out treats because the pandemic has stolen their jobs or businesses and they’re struggling to put food on the table and pay their rent.

Some healthy diet practitioners face a dilemma because they don’t want their kids coming home with a loot bag full of candies and other scorned items. I doubt there are many offerings of healthy items and the kids probably wouldn’t want them anyway.

What the heck; Halloween comes only once a year.

Years ago, when we lived in Toronto, I ran out of treats mid way through Halloween night and resorted to offering small bags of sunflower seeds. I’ll never forget the experience and we still laugh about it to this day. One little fella—I’m guessing about eight years old---took one look at the package and told me to shove it where the sun don’t shine (not his words!)

Let’s hope the kids have fun this Halloween. They deserve it.

Stay safe everyone.

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