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Halloween Doesn’t Have to be Hellish

Way back when my husband & I were first married, we were the creeps on the street who turned our lights off on Halloween.  We weren’t trying to be nasty adults; we just felt that in a society that tended to err on the side of over-consumption, sending children out to fill plastic pumpkins with sugar seemed over the top.  We hid the holiday from our oldest child for a couple of years – one year going to a cabin, one year simply going to bed.  But last year we started what will hopefully become our Halloween tradition.

A week or so before Halloween we made fall lanterns.  They sat dark in our kitchen for the nights leading up to Halloween.  The day before Halloween, we carved jack-o-lanterns.  These, too, sat dark in our kitchen. I can’t say when, but sometime during the afternoon of Halloween the pumpkins went missing.  (And yes, they were missed.)  As twilight set in, we ceremoniously lit our autumn lanterns and paraded up to our forest.  (We live in town on a half-acre.  We do have a wee patch of woods in our back yard, but to our son, it’s a forest.)  And what did we find?  Jack-o-lanterns a-glow among the stumps.  With darkness settling, we sat and watched our flames and listened for our neighborhood great horned owl.  What next?  Tell a story, sing a song, drink hot cider, or simply be.  To me, that is magic.

You too can make your own autumn lantern!  It’s easy and beautiful.  Dig out an old Mason jar (any size will work but the small, squat ones are perfect for smaller hands).  Unearth some tissue paper – you can use white and paint it with autumnal colors after it’s affixed to the lantern, or go ahead and use red, orange and yellow tissue paper.  Paint the jar with Mod-Podge.  Stick on the tissue paper.  Let dry.  Paint another coat or two of Mod-Podge, letting it dry between coats.  If you’ve used white tissue paper, paint it.  Twist a thin-gauge wire around the neck of the jar to make a handle.  Place a tea light in the jar (a bit of sand will hold it in place nicely) and behold: autumnal magic.

4 thoughts on “Halloween Doesn’t Have to be Hellish

  1. I like your tradition! Neat idea. Do the children ever complain about not getting the candy though?

  2. This is such a wonderful way to celebrate! I have been looking for alternative ways to celebrate this yr. I’m just Sooo over the plastic sugar rush holiday. Thank you so much for sharing,

  3. We do the Trick or Treat for UNICEF thing and this years change is going to feed kids in Kenya. Luckily, we live in a very cool community that is big on small toys in luau of candy. My neighbor is an EMT and she hands out glow bracelets every year to increase visibility with drivers.

  4. We use to get together each Halloween as a family and have dinner at my parents home. In that way, my parents could see their grandchildren and children; and the cousins would all enjoy spending time together – with the big kids pulling the little in a wagon. The focus was more on spending time together and visiting people than getting candy. Last year and this year, we are unable to go over to my mom’s home due to the holiday being on a school night. My daughters were talking about what they’ll miss – not the candy…it was one of the families who invite people into their home each year and serve apple cider to the children and wine to the adults. Their house is all decorated, they are in costume, and their dog is so excited to see the guests.

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