Halloween 2020

Celebrating a Socially Distanced Halloween

getting ready to carve our pumpkins for Halloween 2020

Halloween 2020: carved pumpkins

Hallowwen pumpkin carving ideas

If you’re a long-time reader of this blog, you’ll probably recall that I have a short (Well, Max IS only two, after all…), but nevertheless mortifying, track record of totally half-assing Halloween for my child.

For his first Halloween, I put WAY too much emphasis on making the day PEREFCT for him – even though he was only 10 months old at the time – and managed to completely ruin it in the process. (And, I mean, I’d love to be able to say I’ve learned my lesson from this, but, to be totally honest with you, I’m still bitter about the fact that I don’t have one of those photos of him sitting inside a pumpkin. What kind of parent AM I, seriously?)

On his second Halloween, meanwhile, I decided to go in totally the opposite direction, and put in absolutely no effort at all. I justified this by assuring myself how super-mature and responsible I was being by not buying some cheap Halloween costume that Max wouldn’t care he was wearing, and which would ultimately just end up in landfill, but the more I think about it, the more I realise that, actually, I was just being lazy. WHEN WILL I LEARN?

THIS YEAR, was the answer to that question. THIS YEAR would be when I would learn to Halloween appropriately. This year, after all, Max would be almost three: he would be old enough to start to understand what was going on, and to buy into the excitement. He’d love getting dressed up! And, if he enjoyed handing out sweets to trick or treaters last year – which he really did – then just think how much he’d enjoy getting to join in with the fun this year?

Yes, this Halloween was going to be perfect: the year in which I would finally pull-off a feat of Pinterest-worthy parenting, and maybe feel a bit like I was managing to create some amazing childhood memories for Max. So, naturally, then, THIS year was the year the universe decided to throw a global pandemic in our path, meaning that, actually, NO, Amber, it turns out 2020 will NOT be your year after all: in ANY repect, really.

Here is my face when I realised Halloween was cancelled:

Halloween is cancelledOK, that’s actually Max’s face when he realised he was being asked to pose for a photo, but samesame.

Honestly, I was a bit gutted, really. As I wrote in my post on Parenting in a Pandemic, one of the things I’ve really struggled with this year has been the fear that Max’s childhood is being ruined: that, through no fault of his or ours, he’s missing out on all of the seminal childhood experiences that the rest of us took for granted, and while I know he won’t remember them anyway, it’s hard not to feel just a little bit sad about that, isn’t it?

Which brings me – at last – to Halloween 2020.

Like all of the other events of this year, it was not how we’d imagined it this time last year, when Terry was basically counting down the days until he could take Max trick or treating, and I was wondering if people would know who he was supposed to be if I dressed him as a tiny James-Dean-in-Rebel-Without-a-Cause. Ahem.

Thankfully, however, Halloween might not have been quite how we imagined it last year, but it wasn’t quite how we’d started to imagine it earlier this year either. During the spring lockdown, for instance, I was convinced that Halloween just wouldn’t happen at all, and that we’d all still be locked in our houses – or, you know, DEAD – and that the day would pass in the same way every other day has passed in this interminably long Groundhog Day of a year. Happily, though, that wasn’t actually the case, and, while Max didn’t have any “proper” Halloween parties to attend, Terry and I waited until he’d gone down for his afternoon nap, and set up a little party at home for him:

Halloween 2020

I’d had vague ideas that we’d do things like apple bobbing and… whatever it is people do at Halloween parties these days, because, seriously, that’s literally the only thing I can remember about them from my own childhood … but, as it turned out, when Max woke up, he was so excited by the decorations (Some of which had sound effects, etc) and, well, the FOOD, that he basically just ran around on a sugar high until it was time to go trick or treating:

Max's Halloween costume 2020As you can see, Max chose to dress as a witch, and was so absolutely set on this idea that I didn’t even bother suggesting anything else to him: he’s been fascinated by witches for weeks now – mostly thanks to our nightly readings of Room on the Broom – and was really excited to dress as one, so he got to live his dream, in a costume which I suspect will be making regular appearances in our house for a few more weeks: or at least until the next obsession comes along to replace it.

Trick or Treating was another thing I’d assumed wouldn’t happen this year: not just because of Covid restrictions, but also because of the Scottish weather, which, on this occasion chose to bless us with torrential rain and gale force winds: and I mean ACTUAL gale force winds here – I’m not just saying that for dramatic effect. For once.

Luckily, though, the rain stopped for a while in the evening, and, thanks to the collaborative efforts of our street’s Facebook group, we were still able to find a way go out and stay safe/ stick to The Rules, by arranging for everyone taking part to leave containers filled with individually wrapped treats outside their houses, so the children didn’t have to knock on the door, and could just walk up and collect their treat – all of which had been sanitised/quarantined, and then arranged so that each child only had to touch their own bag, rather than rummaging through them.

I was really heartened by how much effort everyone had gone to to try to make the night special, while still remaining safe: Max had lots of decorated houses to visit, plus tons of treats to collect, and as there were lots of other children out at the same time, it was all very exciting for him – in fact, when he realised he was going to be collecting treats from EVERY SINGLE HOUSE we visited, it basically blew his mind, and I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say it was the best night of his life so far. I don’t really know how we can ever hope to top it, in fact, especially given that Christmas this year is… WELL. Yes. Kind of up in the air, really, isn’t it? Because, once Max was in bed for the night, and I’d eaten as many of his Halloween treats as I could reasonably justify, Terry and I switched on the TV and watched Boris Johnson put England back into lockdown again. FFS.

While this news obviously doesn’t affect us here in Scotland, the restrictions we’re currently under aren’t too far away from a full lockdown anyway, and the fact that we’ve been living with the constant threat of one for weeks now isn’t exactly making for a relaxing autumn. To put it mildly.

In a year in which everything has been different, though, I’m glad Max at least got to celebrate Halloween: and as for the rest, well, I guess all we can do is wait and see where the next few weeks take us. And who knows, maybe NEXT year will be my year for the perfect Halloween? Maybe?

How are you coping?

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books by Amber Eve
  • Mary Katherine


    What a day-brightener, Amber! I love what you did in your own house with decorations and treats, and am delighted that your street went all out for it, too. The Best Night of His Life – and in 2020, too! Woop Woop!
    As for us Across the Pond, we have much more freedom – and the soaring Covid numbers to prove it. And today is Election Day – beginning a weeks-long agony of counting AFTER the months-long agony of campaigning. We are hunkering down, hoping to avoid armed mobs in the streets (not kidding, there). and praying for an end to the nightmare of the last 4 years. So yes, who’s ready for Christmas?!?!?!

    November 3, 2020
  • Brenda


    Awe! Max is a cute witch! I think you guys did the very best you could, under the circumstances! We set our halloween candy out on the front step as well, I did miss seeing all the kids dressed up. I did NOT miss my dogs losing their absolute minds with the trick or treaters though! It was probably the most quiet Halloween I have ever had.

    November 3, 2020
  • Myra Boyle


    Looks like you did a great job of Hallowe’en for your gorgeous little witch.

    November 3, 2020
  • Fi


    That’s a great photo of Max at the top of the page! I love his little excited face! And bravo to whoever carved the pumpkin eating the pumpkin eating the carrot(?)!

    November 3, 2020
  • Barbara West


    Max is adorable, your house looked great, and three cheers to your neighborhood for taking care of all the kiddos! I did not realize Trick-or-Treating had become a big thing in the UK. And bless you for thinking about us here in the States.

    November 4, 2020
  • Amber D


    Awww Max is adorable as a witch. I am glad you didn’t limit him in his gender expression. We set up a table at the end of our driveway. Quite a few people in my neighborhood did this. We coordinated together. We went all out with gift bags full of candy, fun Halloween cups, glowsticks, stickers etc. We also put hand sanitizer there for everyone. It was great. We sat back from the table about 20 feet and waved to people as they passed by. Our neighborhood was so great at social distancing and being careful so that everyone could enjoy.

    Ollie was dressed as a Shark. Romi as a unicorn Pegasus. She did not like that hoodie part of it though.

    November 5, 2020