Ocala, FL

How My Family Found Joy in Halloween 2020 (Seeking positive ways to celebrate the holidays)

Amanda Clark-Rudolph

With the pandemic changing the way we celebrate holidays, my family continues to seek the silver linings in Halloween and Thanksgiving celebrations.

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Photo by Maddie Baker on Unsplash

No doubt, 2020 has been a tough year. COVID-19 has changed many aspects of our lives, and a lot of people are struggling on multiple fronts.

These days, when I find any silver lining, any positives at all, I try to write about them. And for my family, a positive is that Halloween 2020 was our best yet. (Stick around until the end when I predict a fun, out-of-the-box Thanksgiving 2020, too.)

Here's why.

We Trick or Treated in our cars.

Traditional trick or treating was not in the cards for our family, but when our church in Ocala, Florida, advertised a safe drive-thru trunk or treat, I was intrigued.

I can't speak highly enough of the thoughtfulness and cleverness that went into this spooktacular event.

Here's how it went down: I dressed up the kids, buckled them into the car seats, and drove to the church.

Once there, masked parking attendants directed us where to go. We then drove slowly between two lines of decorated car trunks, each accompanied by masked participants waving at the car parade.

The decorated trunks were terrific; I mean, they went all out for sure. We're talking about various themed trunk decorations, like those filled with scarecrows, pumpkins, legos, and more. The kids loved it.

Then, after taking part in the Halloween "parade," a lady (wearing a mask) handed me two huge bags of candy, one for each boy.

Why did a parent of two young children love this so much?

Let's start with the fact that last year, my husband and I chased a 4-year-old around a Halloween mall event while wheeling around his baby brother. Even though more contained than outdoors, I was exhausted at the end of that experience. Plus, we waited in long lines to get candy.

On the contrary, this drive-thru experience was relaxing. No chasing necessary!

It was less stressful.

I know this sounds strange considering the circumstances, but it was. I didn't have to carry anything, or worry about one of my boys darting into the road, etc. We were all merrily contained in our minivan.

It was quicker.

For me, this was a positive. Look at the sweet cars, get candy, grab dinner, go home. I'm no Halloween Scrooge, but traditional trick or treating takes a lot of time; this event did not.

There were no opportunities for my 2-year-old, dressed as Blippi, to lose his suspenders and glasses. Or my 5-year-old Spidey to drop his mask ten times. Even more so, there were no opportunities for kids to eat candy (until the end).

We ate dinner in an abandoned parking lot by Sonic.

Hear me out. After the trunk or treat drive-thru experience, the boys were done sitting in the car, and I admit, a bit sugar high. So, we ventured with my parents to Sonic.

Not fans of the crowded picnic area, we ate in the adjacent and abandoned window tinting company's parking lot. There, our psyched boys ran around for a solid 20.

This random experience would not have happened any other year — another reason 2020 was our best Halloween.

Some realities about Halloween 2020

I am not trying to make light of serious times. I am well aware that there was a lot of debate going on about what parents should do for Halloween, in addition to high tensions about a deadly virus and heated election.

Some families decided to go on with business as usual. Others chose to use PVC pipes to shoot candy to visitors. Others participated in drive-thru activities as we did. Some stayed home to watch Halloween movies and do candy scavenger hunts.

This Halloween was the most creative. From drive-thru trunk or treats to bubble costumes, there were safe alternatives. And parents found innovative solutions, many with the help of their communities, to make Halloween a success.

If I had it my way, I would vouch for dressing up my kids, putting them in the car, driving and seeing awesome trunks, and then getting a bag of candy at the end, any year. But then again, that's just me :)

My predictions for Thanksgiving 2020

The pandemic doesn't stop holidays, but it does change the way many of us celebrate them. We're now moving onto Thanksgiving 2020, and due to the recent spike of COVID cases, the CDC recommends limiting social gatherings during holiday celebrations, social distancing, avoiding crowded indoor spaces, and more.

This Thanksgiving will be a bit different than Halloween. There are no drive-thru turkey dinners nearby (although I've heard these are happening). Instead, my family is cutting down the attendee list and spending it only with my parents.

(Yes, I acknowledge they are not from our household, but we decided four months in that my parents would be our only "social circle.")

I understand that families all have different philosophies on how to handle the pandemic. My family has taken it seriously, and we analyze many decisions. We're doing our best to keep everyone mentally and physically safe.

Although we always wear masks in crowded places, we also recognize that other decisions - like whether or not to send your kid to school - are not so black and white.

But getting back to Thanksgiving, we've chosen to celebrate it while taking precautions, such as venturing outdoors, and getting tested (all negatives).

Despite all of the uncertainty in 2020, I predict Thanksgiving, like Halloween, will be spectacular.

Why?

A big reason: My INFJ personality - because I'm a fan of small gatherings instead of huge ones. Not to mention, we're ordering a pre-made turkey dinner from the nearby grocery store, so I don't have to cook.

Like I noted from the beginning, I'm all about recognizing the positives when I can, so for me, Thanksgiving 2020, with its lack of cooking AND people, will also be one of our best yet.

What about you? Have you found any silver linings in your holiday experiences? Feel free to leave them in the comments below.

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Hi, I'm Amanda - a freelancing mama who writes about family, travel, holidays, and more! In addition to freelancing it up, I'm a Content Coordinator for neighborhood magazines. My favorite pastimes: Writing, slurping lattes, and playing freeze tag with my two sons.

Ocala, FL
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