Millennial Mom: Halloween in a pandemic

Kids in costume enjoying the Halloween season.
(Rawpixel/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Since late September we’ve had two medium-sized pumpkins as centerpieces on our dining room table. The orange next to the espresso brown puts us in mind of fall and has inspired conversations about the upcoming holidays.

But amid a pandemic, celebrations will need adjusting like most other things in our lives.

Surprisingly my 4-year-old daughter says Halloween is her new favorite holiday. It’s the latest hint of her edgy personality in the making. First, she told us she’s “a rocker” like Queen Barb from “Trolls 2: Trolls World Tour.” Now she’s declaring her affinity for the “spooky” tradition — which was also inspired by an animated movie. She recently watched “Addams Family” with her dad and brother. This time, the PG movie didn’t scare her as much as it did when the trio saw it last year. The same movie that had her sleeping in our bed for nine months has suddenly convinced her that “Halloween is the best holiday ever!”

I’m more of a Christmas person.

Still, my husband and I got swept up in the excitement. We promised our kids that we’d make pumpkin pies and Jack-o’-lanterns. Neither one of us has ever done either; I’m sure we got the idea from some ‘90s sitcoms. I should have known we were in over our heads when something started oozing from one of the pumpkins. They were caving into one another. There’s apparently a shelf life for garden-grown pumpkins and the early October heatwave that baked our home probably sped it up.

Despite our procrastination, it’s time to follow through on all of the exciting Halloween plans we came up with at the beginning of the season. Lucky for us, our neighbors are on the same page. We live in a cul-de-sac of sorts and about half of the families also include young children. We parents have agreed to do our part to make it fun for the kids. One dad suggested bobbing for apples. The moms quickly nixed the idea, which is totally out of step with social distancing guidelines.

Instead, we decided on a costume contest and games we could play while social distancing. We settled on a chalk decorating contest where each kid would decorate the area right in front of their family’s garage and freeze dance.

We also put up orange and white lights and small signatures of Halloween creators to set the mood. There are signs with bats and pumpkins that read “Happy Halloween.” There are a few skeletons but given the young age of the kids, we haven’t gotten much scarier than spiders, black cats and bats. Each house will also create a different themed bag with candy and toys.

Picking out Halloween costumes is probably one of the best ways to get in the spirit. I haven’t come up with one just yet. I haven’t dressed up beyond cat ears since my “pick me” sexy cop days in college. This year I may put in a little more effort to be creative, but I’m more interested in making sure the kids have fun.

For my son, picking a costume was his most important decision since his Christmas list for Santa last year.

For weeks he told us he was “still deciding” before finally announcing he’d be a Storybot, a character from an educational show on Netflix. It teaches kids about dinosaurs and space, and answers questions about many topics kids find interesting. It’s the perfect show for a little boy who is curious about everything. The problem is I didn’t find any store selling the colorful cylinders that are shaped like the robots. Luckily, I was able to convince my son that Beep, Boop, Bing, Bang, and Bo are essential robots. I am pretty sure I’m somewhat correct. But I admit I haven’t sat through a full episode. Fortunately, there are plenty of stores selling robots.

As for my daughter, without hesitation as soon as we gave her an option she declared that she’d be JoJo for Halloween. Jojo as in, JoJo Siwa. She’s a Nickelodeon star who first got recognition from the “Dance Moms” reality show on Lifetime. Now she’s popular for her kiddy pop music and dance videos. It would be
pretty easy to recreate Jojo’s look for a Halloween costume. Her outfits include bright colors and her signature high tops are reminiscent of another influential child character: Punky Brewster. But thanks to Jojo’s popularity, costumes are readily available.

With the costumes, dance party, and socially distanced interaction I doubt our kids will miss going door to door this year. Besides, it has been a bit annoying having to prod them to say “trick or treat” as they’re just standing there staring at people who have been nice enough to open their doors for us in years past. Then we have to remind our son to take only one candy. Finally, we have to remind them both to say thank you.

I think this will be a Halloween to remember. And if our pumpkin pie doesn’t turn out, there’s always Patti LaBelle’s store-bought pumpkin pies.