Halloween 2020: Not sure what can scare us now

Sherri Gardner HowellBlount, Farragut, Kitchen Table Talk, West Hills

Halloween is Saturday, and heaven only knows what it will look like in 2020.

I mean, it has kind of been Halloween since March, hasn’t it? The elements have all been here: masks, empty buildings haunted by ghosts of workers past and plenty of scary stories. I’m not sure Halloween will seem as frightening this year!

While not as beloved as Christmas or as likely to tug heartstrings as Thanksgiving, Halloween in my lifetime has certainly been a major holiday. Enjoying the holiday has been a constant for me – from my own childhood days of “trick-or-treat” and a few other Halloween night antics to our neighborhood “gang” of kids gathering with Scary Sherri for stories and pizza before hitting all the neighbors for candy to fun times in Franklin, Tenn., the past few years with grandson King, son Trey and daughter-in-law Kinsey.

This year will be different for many. Even in neighborhoods where children are back-in-school together or playing together after school, moms and dads are grappling with how to keep the fun and stay safe.  Many will go to smaller, family parties instead of house-to-house. Others will choose the houses they visit, sticking with friends or families they are in some way associated. Some will go as they usually do, figuring the contact at the door for a quick “trick-or-treat” is no longer than a drive-thru or grocery store visit.

I know how resilient children are. They bounce back to their idea of normal from things that sideline adults for twice as long. They process information differently, not yet able to think much about what is not within their sphere of familiarity. That has been encouraging for me as I worry about what they have seen and experienced in 2020. There is no doubt they will be affected in some way by the shifts in work environments for parents, weeks at home with little freedom, school interruptions and sports/extra-curricula activities halted. But all the kids I see as I watch my grandchildren play and interact with friends seem as happy and settled as they were last year.

Sherri and Kinsey as Maleficent and a witch for the Westhaven Witches Ride for American Cancer Society.

I hope some form of Halloween happens for all the kids who want it. Dressing up, getting candy, acting spooky and getting just a little bit scared is an annual rite-of-passage. Halloween baby pumpkins grow to be firemen and cheerleaders, then to Spider Man and Ariel then to ghouls and hippies. Even for children, it’s a chance to adopt a new persona and step out of your everyday world for just a night.

Maybe we all should grab a costume this year. I rode a decorated golf cart in the Westhaven Witches Ride for the American Cancer Society in Franklin again this year, and I thoroughly enjoyed being Maleficent!

On Halloween night, make your trick-or-treaters feel welcome this year. Light up your yard, carve a pumpkin, turn on your porch light and buy some good candy. Wear as mask if you want. With the crowd at your door, you’ll fit right in!

Sherri Gardner Howell has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons.


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