Trick or Treating at the Buckmans

April 2, 2010 8:44:24 AM PDT
At our house, we love Halloween - perhaps me even more than our kids! And our house is known throughout the neighborhood as having some special Halloween traditions.

Our first tradition is one that my Mom started some 50 years ago, when my brothers were little, that I carry on every year. You see, at our house, you have to do a trick to get your treat . Here's how it works.

In my foyer, I set up a small snack table with three small pumpkin-shaped containers on it. In one of the containers, I place an "extra" treat. It's usually just a Hershey's kiss, a Tootsie Roll or some other small piece of candy. Sometimes, I'll use quarters. I only allow up to three children in at a time, (with their parents, if they want) and each one has to choose the pumpkin that they think has the extra treat in it. You should see how they ponder this big decision! After each child has chosen a different pumpkin, they lift the lids to see who won.

The winner gets the extra treat. And then everyone gets to choose a treat from our big candy bowl (there are no losers at our house!). This sounds simple, but the kids (even the middle-schoolers who remember doing this when they were younger) get excited and it really makes our house stand out. It also is a great conversation starter and I get a chance to meet and chat with the neighborhood adults as the kids are playing our game.

Our other big tradition is my husband's. He carves several amazing pumpkins every year. Usually, a couple weeks before Halloween, we go to a pumpkin patch/hayride. We really like Seiple Farms in Bath, Pa. Each of the boys chooses a pumpkin from the field. It's always fun to see who wants the round one, who wants the more oval-shaped, etc.

When we get home, each boy chooses a design for his pumpkin. There are plenty of websites that offer free pumpkin patterns. Usually, we pick a theme. Last year, it was Phillies (of course!), but we've done Eagles pumpkins, Disney pumpkins, scary pumpkins and more. Many years ago, we bought a Pumpkin Masters carving kit and we re-use the tools each year. We all work together scooping out the pumpkins' insides ? even the youngest children can help with that messy job. Then we tape the patterns on and start the time-consuming job of tracing the patterns onto the pumpkin with a tiny poking tool. At first, my husband did all the carving, but now, the two older boys can help and my husband saves his skills for the most intricate jobs.

We always get great compliments from our trick-or-treaters. But the most important part of both of these traditions, in my opinion, is that they get everyone in the family involved. And they build great, happy, childhood memories, not just of getting candy, but of really participating in the fun of a holiday. My hope is that our boys will continue these traditions with their children some day. We, as parents, feel all sorts of responsibility to pass serious lessons onto our kids. But sometimes, the fun lessons can be just as important.