Like so many events this year, trick-or-treating may be taking a major hit. I imagine there will be many youngsters trick-or treating, if it is allowed, dressed as surgeons, Ninja Warriors, bandits, bank robbers and other imaginative costumes that can integrate a mask of some sort.
This Halloween takes me back to the late 1980s when I worked as the admission/marketing director for a local nursing home chain. It was my duty to create opportunities to showcase the facility and bring positive attention to it on a miniscule budget. When October came around, I came up with a clever idea. Halloween, like Christmas, is a special holiday for children. At Christmas Santa makes the rounds of hospital children wards often accompanied by carolers and passing out candy and good cheer. But what about Halloween? Do hospitalized children get any special attention around October 31st?
I ran with the idea of cheering up the kids. I incorporated the assistance of the Activity Director, Nora and Charlene, the Director of Nursing. We gathered the more able residents and taught them pumpkin carols by Charles Schulz of “Peanuts” including “Deck the Patch” “The Twelve days of Halloween” “Pumpkin Wonderland”. I don’t recall who among us made it, but a pumpkin costume was created so Nora could lead the singers through the halls of St. Joe Hospital.
The next stage was to figure out what we could give the children. Charlene crocheted small pumpkins with felt features they could put on their bedside stand. Thinking back, comparing this to the Christmas hospital ritual, I felt that Hallowsocks were in order. Yes, traditional stockings hung by the chimney with care would be warped into Halloween designs and given to each child to hang by their beds. In a short time 40 were made and the big day came a couple days prior to Halloween.
The residents were transported to St. Joe Hospital armed with their song sheets, pumpkins and Hallowsocks. Led by Nora, the Great Pumpkin, they headed down the halls spreading their joy to the delight of kids and their parents. Parents were given the Hallowsocks so they could take them home to fill them with whatever may be appropriate for their child to receive, whether candy, fruit, small toys, cash, etc. The residents were as excited and happy to see the children as the children were to have a bit of excitement focused on them.
This Halloween may mark the return of the Hallowsock. Parents who don’t want to risk their children’s health, or in case of inclement weather, may decide to sew up simple stockings, stuff them as they feel fit and hang them up while the kids watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” safely at home. Celebrating with Hallowsocks and a visit by the Great Pumpkin may just make this Pandemic Halloween a little less scary!