These days, it’s hard to tell between fact and fiction. Halloween is just days away and yet it can feel like the zombie apocalypse is already here.

“I just don’t know if we should do Halloween this year,” a friend said to us one night, a few weeks ago, when the subject of trick-or-treating came up over a socially distanced visit.

It seemed preposterous to my husband and I at the time, and yet, it isn’t far from the truth. Since then, I’ve been polling every parent I run into: Trick-or-treat or stay at home? Survey results are mixed.

Some parents are talking about replacing trick or treating with treasure hunts and family movie nights. Some have mentioned using tongs to hand out treats, to maintain social distance. One parent even suggested throwing candy at the kids. Trick or treating as sport, I guess?

One mom mentioned candy chutes and slides parents can use to distribute the stuff. She’s right, it’s true! I saw it on YouTube!

Then there are the events that have popped up to replace local traditions. Instead of walks in the park where neighbours have put up their pumpkins, there are now pumpkin theme parks and Halloween light drive-throughs that can cost a small fortune if you have a car full of kids, like I do. That is if you can still get tickets, as most dates I looked up are sold out.

I got so desperate I even thought about renting a tent and heaters for an outdoor neighbourhood party, but then I remembered it would be hard to maintain social distance.

For Halloween babies, it’s especially tough. Halloween AND my birthday are cancelled this year? Ugh.

It’s enough to make this parent finally give in to the request to try paint ball, just to give my eldest SOMETHING to look forward to.

As for the handing out candy part, my husband has had his flu shot and as long as he’s feeling fine, he’ll be dressed up and dishing it out like any other year. Perhaps he’ll wear a fancy mask—that way he’ll have his costume and COVID protection all in one.

The truth is, I’m beginning to wonder if all these measures to protect us aren’t the beginning of our undoing. Businesses going under. Parents and kids feeling depressed and disconnected. If we’re still alive once the pandemic is finally over, I have to wonder what will be left of us if we keep going this way?

Chatting with other parents and neighbours, I hear that I’m not alone in these thoughts.

I’ve never been a traditionalist, despite the husband and four kids and a house in the suburbs. But I’m feeling very protective lately of our way of life. And that includes Halloween. Relinquishing this holiday feels like giving in to fear to me. A fear that is as nebulous as the ghosts and ghouls of Halloween.

Extra curricular sports like hockey are cancelled, but we can still take our kids to the mall if we want to. The kids wear masks at school and yet many of them are catching the common cold. To be honest, none of it is quite adding up.

For now, it looks like I’ll be planning an Easter Egg hunt in October. Like I said, the truth is stranger than fiction.


Cat Margulis is a Toronto writer and super (tired) mom of four. She's working on her first novel, launching her own podcast The Passion Project, and generally trying to do and have it all. You can see how she does it @catmargulis and @passionprojectpod on Instagram.

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