Halloween – Ghosts, Ghouls and Giving

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There may be a fair few of you out there who, like me, have a serious love/hate relationship with Halloween and what it has become here is Australia. I have one memory from my childhood, one, of dressing up in an old sheet with holes cut out for eyes … and romping around the neighbourhood with lots of other kids dressed in old sheets with holes cut out for eyes…. How times have changed. As a result of more than one family of very enthusiastic and very lovely Canadians living in our suburb, Halloween in our community over the last fifteen years has become bigger than the proverbial Ben Hur.  Huge. I  know our suburb is not alone.

What’s to love

I love the community aspect. Completely love that. Roaming the streets, bumping into loads of local folk for a quick chat, a laugh and a catch up… you know, connecting and reconnecting to the local community. I love that some families set themselves up outside their houses with tables, chairs and wine, and invite the chat.

I love the dress-up stuff – there is some serious creativity and fun going on there.

The whole thing really can be very enjoyable.

What’s not to love so much

I really, really dislike the whole lolly thing. As parents, we drill into our children practically from birth, that accepting lollies from strangers MUST NOT BE DONE, yet on this one day that sage advice flies right out the window on a broomstick and we encourage this random behaviour. We, as adults, can grasp that mixed message, but can our young kids? Then there’s the resulting bounty, which can be a ludicrous, insane quantity. I’m sure that I’m not alone in looking at the dazzling array and assortment and:

  1. Wondering about teeth.
  2. Wondering about stomachs.
  3. Wondering about how well tonight’s sleep will go for all family members.
  4. Wondering where I’ve put the vomit bags.
  5. Wondering about the next day.
  6. Hoping that no sicko has injected lethal poison into any of the multitude of sweets.

I’m not a huge fan of lollies anyway. I tolerate them for parties etc, however that’s the only time of year they appear in our cupboards. Don’t get all shitty at that, this is me, it doesn’t have to be you. Back to Halloween.

What I am loving about Halloween now more than anything, are those people and organisations who have found a way to make Halloween work for the greater good… and for others much less well off. Up on a pedestal you go. Their charitable ideas are very, very commendable and totally adoptable.

Here are a couple of these…

Scare cancer

Join Kids with Cancer Foundation Australia’s ‘Scare Cancer’ campaign and raise money to support babies and children with cancer and their families. 100% of all donations received goes directly to these families. You can register your own scary event by calling the Kids with Cancer Foundation on 1800 255 522 or send them an email at fundraising@kidswithcancer.org.au. For more details you can visit their website here: https://www.kidswithcancer.org.au/scare.html

Sick or treat

Sick or treat is a fundraising event organised by Rare Cancers Australia, supporting the  42,000 Australians who are diagnosed with rare cancers every year. This campaign helps to to raise awareness and to help provide essential funds for research and the development of medicines. For details go to https://www.sickortreat.org.au/

Charity box

The most enthusiastic of the local Canadians, (and when I say enthusiastic, their house would make the front page of the local paper every year and every year there was talk of having to close off the street off to keep the young witches, Harry Potters, vampires etc safe…), would have adult ghouls and ghosts walking around with collection buckets for charity. They found people were really willing to donate and raised a pretty sum each year. Other households have a charity box with them on their curbside set up, ready for anyone who felt so inclined.

A couple of other tips and ideas

  • You could consider giving out treats other than lollies; stickers, tattoos, bubbles and bouncy balls are among ideas I’ve seen.
  • Do not get married on the 31st October, unless you want to spend many of your anniversaries on the streets following your scary brood. #LearnedThisTheHardWay

Keeping kids safe: Guidelines from NSW police

POLICE NSW have issued safety tips to help children and parents enjoy a safe and fun Halloween.

  • It is safest for children to remain in groups and only approach houses in daylight
  • Younger children should always be supervised by a parent, carer or responsible adult at all times
  • It is important to recognise that not everyone celebrates Halloween each year – so it is best to stick to houses with decorations on their properties. Police will not tolerate damage to property
  • While it is an exciting time for everyone, remember to be aware of your surroundings and take extra care when crossing roads
  • Tell your parents where you’re going and what time you’ll be home
  • Stay in familiar, well-lit areas in your neighbourhood, don’t take short cuts
  • Stick to the footpaths and take extra care when crossing driveways or roads
  • Only cross the road at designated lights and crossings
  • Stay with your friends at all times and carry a mobile phone in case of emergency
  • If you’re riding a bike or skateboard, wear a helmet
  • Never get into a vehicle with someone you don’t know or enter a stranger’s home, even if invited in.

Bindy Cummings (B.Ed hons) is the Editor of GymbaROO’s ‘First Steps’ parenting magazine, digital articles and media. She is the co-creator of GymbaROO’s free Active Babies Smart Kids online series. She is a teacher, GymbaROO early childhood neurodevelopmental consultant and early childhood development lecturer. More on Bindy Cummings here.

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