It’s a thrilling night for kids. It’s a time when everyone is allowed to dream big and dress up as someone they are not. And yes… it is also a time for candy. What we often don’t realize, though, is that as we help our kids choose who they want to be for Halloween, we are opening opportunities for them to learn about who they want to be in real life.
When I was young, I had a friend whose mom would help her dress as a different saint each year. Together they would assemble the costume and learn about the saint’s life, so that when the inevitable question of “What are you dressed as?” came, she would be able to answer with her favorite thing about the saint she’d chosen. It was a beautiful way to learn and evangelize at the same time. It was also a wonderful way to honor Halloween as the vigil of All Saints' Day.
I, on the other hand, never dressed as a saint for Halloween. This was largely due to the fact that I was Protestant at the time. It was also because this was the only day of the year a kid could dress up as their favorite book character and not be judged, and I wasn’t about to waste that opportunity as a seven-year-old.
But in the end, both my friend and I learned something each time we put together a costume for Halloween. I learned more about the stories of my favorite characters as my mother asked me why I liked them. I learned more about Snow White’s kindness and gentleness, I learned more about Zorro’s justice and courage to risk everything to help people in need. And I discovered that I wanted to be kind and gentle, just and courageous, too!
My friend learned about men and women who were crazy in love with God, and who ended up changing the world in small and big ways. And she discovered that she wanted to love God like that, and make a difference in the world, too!
We learned a lot about ourselves in those days of getting to know our heroes better. And much of that was thanks to our moms who, in their own ways, engaged us in conversation about our choices. They helped us choose our costumes intentionally. And with all that love behind our picks, it made dressing up more meaningful and more fun!
So whether you are trying to make your kid look like St. Francis Xavier or their favorite dog off of Paw Patrol, find that opening of inspiration for your child this Halloween. Try to make the creative process of putting together a costume a moment of bonding and discovery! Find ways to dialogue with them about who they are choosing to dress up as. What do they like about this person or character? What do they know about them? What would they like to learn about them? What can they tell the neighbors when asked who they are?
As you learn more about who your child’s heroes are, and who they want to be in real life, you may even get a glimpse of the saint God is calling them to become.
by Sr Orianne Dyck, novice of the Daughters of St Paul
photo credit: Steven Libralon for Unsplash