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A Cup of Happiness, to Go

I never realized how ‘green’ my family had been. In the 1970s, we recycled and practiced many other environmentally sound habits. I’m sure it was out of necessity rather than conscientiousness. Of course, no one called it ecological. Parents called it thrifty. Kids called it cheap. Halloween was no exception. We used pillowcases to hold the mounds of candy collected after screaming those three magic words, “trick-or-treat!” We had no use for dinky plastic pumpkins. They cost money and didn’t hold nearly enough candy. Sporting a pumpkin candy-holder would cost you precious time trucking all the way home after only a block of collections. Forget it!

I was an Indian for five years in a row. Clad in a brown felt sack with arms cut out and a zigzag hem, I practiced howling and rain dances. My hair formed a single braid down my back and, the best part, lines across my nose, cheeks and forehead were painted with mom’s makeup. Living in the Midwest meant there was often snow on the ground and candy collectors were obliged to wear a coat over costumes, so dress-up details weren’t a pressing matter. Collecting heaps of candy was the only concern. Nosy neighbors might insist on knowing your disguise so kids of all sizes and shapes pulled open coats like a gang of flashers revealing super heroes, doctors and cheerleaders.

Times changed, and in the 80’s plastic was all the rave. Thank Goodness they kept changing. With so much emphasis on environmental awareness, and rightfully so, many families have opted to go green this Halloween.


If you’re interested in saving the environment, and a little money, here are some easy options to consider.

Forget elbowing your way to buy the cheesy-looking, costly, flimsy, manufactured costumes. The cheap material is bad for the environment, and usually falls apart. It certainly won’t last a second Halloween season. Rummage through the treasures in your closets. It won’t take any longer than laboring through the mall, and it’s free! The kids will have exclusive, one of a kind costumes, and stay warm.

Decorate with nature. A trip to your backyard or local farmer’s market will provide all you need – gourds, pumpkins, leaves, and dried flowers. Forget dusting and leave the spider webs and dust balls throughout the house for a more authentic, realistic look. Okay, maybe that’s going a little too far.

Encouraging creativity is so fun this time of year. According to Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle, “Where this is no imagination, there is no horror.”

If you’re looking for a scarier aura, turn it over to the kids. Commercial witches and goblins won’t compare to your child’s imagination. Grab some paper and markers and have the kids cut and color skeletons and spiders. You may be frightened and impressed by their haunting imagination. If you need to fan their imagination flame, check out some spooky ideas and patterns at

Once the house and kids are adorned, get some fresh air and frolic through a pumpkin patch. For one near you, go to and click on pumpkin patches.

Contact Margaret Lavin at


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