Halloween has always been somewhat of a national holiday around our house. We go full throttle on the spooky décor, our Far North Dallas neighborhood turns into “Scare City Central,” and we always get slammed with nearly 100 trick-or-treaters seeking all varieties of “fun size” candy bars every October 31.
Seeing little ones loitering at my door all decked out as super heroes, magical fairies or ninja turtles just never gets old. But sadly for me, my teen daughters aged out as Disney Princesses a few Halloweens back. Their choices for costumes now vary from the very macabre to zombie couture.
Although they’re getting a little too old to go trick-or-treating, that doesn’t stop our family from reveling in our Halloween traditions. Some of these rituals have remained steadfast. Others have been slightly modified to be amenable to the changing tastes of my budding teenagers, yet still preserve just a smidge of nostalgia to satisfy their dear old mom.
Halloween sends me through a holiday time warp, because it makes me sentimental for the past while enjoying the present. Today, it gives our family an excuse to create new traditions that make sure everyone has a “ghoul” time.
Here’s a few of our favorite Halloween traditions:
- “Peanuts: It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”
If they had their druthers, my girls would tune into the latest episode of The Walking Dead, but nothing says it’s time for Halloween more than watching the TV classic “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” It was a perennial family favorite when I was growing up, and now my gang enjoys it just the same.
This year marks the 51st Anniversary of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, the third Peanuts special. And people are still sitting in their pumpkin patch, waiting for the Great Pumpkin to deem them the most sincere. According to People Magazine, seven million viewers (including four at our house) tune in to watch Lucy, Linus, Charlie Brown and of course, Snoopy.
- Pumpkin Carvings and Pumpkin Patches
When the girls were younger, Hubby and I would pile everyone into the minivan and head out to the country to find a pumpkin patch, buy tacky yard art and take hay rides around the corn fields. After plucking the perfect pumpkin, we would bring it home and carve it up as part of our Halloween décor. One year, Hubby and my youngest even won honorable mention in a local pumpkin carving contest for “Most Creative” (perhaps it was really for the least offensive hatched job on a holiday gourd).
Fast forward a few years and the trip to the pumpkin patch has been replaced to a run to the grocery store. Even so, Hubby and the girls still have a blast carving up the pumpkin and making a mess on the kitchen table.
- Best Halloween House on the Street
It’s hard to believe, that we’ve hosted nearly a dozen family Halloween Party and Chili Suppers over the years. Although our friends and their kids love coming over for my mother’s great chili – what they enjoy most is a stroll down our block to see the Best Halloween House on the Street.
Since 1999, our neighbors have been known to go all out with their Halloween decorations. They feature custom-made tombstones, a corn maze, live terrifying and mystical costume characters, incredible sound effects, giant inflatables, scary music and a serious fog machine.
What turned out as a way to bid farewell to a particularly difficult year, was the catalyst that inspired our neighbors to start a special Halloween tradition of their own.
Turns out, 1999 was a difficult time for John Staley and his family who experienced significant health and work challenges that year. John says they were none to happy to let 1999 “rest in peace,” so he created a RIP tombstone in his garage to mark the occasion and placed it in his yard for Halloween.
Well, one tombstone begot another and now their yard is full of them. This has turned John’s garage into makeshift Halloween workshop. What started out as a humorous way to say goodbye to a tough time, has turned the Staley’s home into one of the most celebrated stops on the Halloween night circuit.
John’s college-age sons return each year with an entourage of friends to don alien and movie-monster costumes to entertain the neighborhood with one of the most widely anticipated attractions of the year that brings joy to every trick-or-treater who passes by.
Now that’s how you spread the Halloween spirit!