I am not one who shuns it as 'the devils holiday', yet we don't do much to celebrate it either. Here's the scoop.
Growing up both Mrs. Curley and I celebrated Halloween in our families to one extent or another. She went trick-or-treating; my family had an in-house party in-costume. Certainly the holiday has changed. People had a greater realization in those days (maybe this was because we grew up in 'Catholic' New England) of the meaning of Halloween as a day to contemplate death. Today so much has changed. You'd be crazy to send your kid out alone at night knocking on people's doors (let's face it, most of us don't know our neighbors as well as our parent's knew theirs) unsupervised. The costumes have changed: the scary has gotten scarier and gross. And then there are the new 'sexy' costumes for little girls.
At the same time, if Halloween has been stolen by secular pagan society-shouldn't we steal it back by celebrating it's true meaning in our families and parishes?
Even when I was growing up, it seemed that Halloween had overtaken All Saints Day and All Souls Day in importance and celebration. I think this emphasis on Halloween in the absence of the All Saints and All Souls has helped produce the current situation. So I think the starting point is a rejuvenation of the celebrations of All Saints and All Souls.
Practically speaking as a parent of 7, you just can't do the costume thing for 7 kids for two different days right in a row. You have to make a choice. And the choice is obvious if you want to emphasize one over the other. We do All Saints Day big with our friends. We go to Mass and then have a community breakfast and then an All Saints Day celebration with costumes and games. Last night, in fact, I "tonsured" one of my sons who will be dressed as a monk.
Last year when teaching I took the day off to make this celebration.(I still don't understand why Catholic schools make their teachers work on Holy Days.) In fact I have always taken time off from work, no matter where I was employed, for our family and friends All Saints Day celebration.
On Halloween we have sometimes played games at home. We certainly have talked about the history of the holiday. Mostly we spend Halloween preparing for All Saints Day.
So this is what we do now and have been doing for at least 10 years. Our kids look forward to All Saints with the same anticipation I looked forward to Halloween as a kid. Happy Halloween!
Our Lady of Joyful Hope-pray for us! ... Oremus pro invicem! (let us pray for each other.)