Boo-tiful Décor

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Find more about halloween, arts and crafts

I'm in the middle of a big-box store where I've let Grace, 6, walk around the corner to look at the Halloween costumes. A display of mini-pumpkins erupts seconds later when she comes tearing back around the corner like a bat out of you-know-where.

"Mama, I'm scared," she sobs shakily. As I rock her in my arms, my mind races for what could trigger such fear She finally calms enough to explain in a tremulous voice, "The mummy tried to grab me."

I restore the little pumpkins to their display shelf, then pick up my own scared little pumpkin. I try to lighten the mood by saying, "Mummy's no match for Mommy," as we round the corner to check things out.

Let's just say Mommy spoke too soon — this was not the white, neatly wrapped Halloween decoration I'd anticipated. Instead, I was met by a five-foot tall, raggedly-bandaged creature whose skeletal flesh peeped through his wraps and whose sinister red eyes glowed from deep within bony sockets.

"Wow, I see what you mean," I said to Grace as she covered her eyes and began to whimper. As we turned to walk away, a sensor triggered the mummy's arms to jerk up in mock attack.

In the car on the way home, Grace seemed calmed by our long conversation about what's real and what's not. I explained how the mummy was like a "big craft project" made of plastic and wired with gadgets and batteries to light up and move.

"I don't care what it's made of, I don't like it," she said.

When we got home, she still wanted to get out our Halloween decorations. I promised we could do it after school the next day, so that I'd have time to shop for some supplies with which to haunt our house in a more "friendly" manner.

The next day, Grace and I got down to Halloween business. With cotton balls and tissues we made baby ghosts, and for our fireplace mantle we made a gauzy ghost family to mirror our own — we even included our dog Buster.

We got out all her teddy bears and "costumed them" by tying orange and black bows around their necks, adding paper masks and party hats made from orange construction paper and Halloween stickers.

I grouped clear vases, votive holders, and candy dishes that we filled with candy corn, orange jelly beans, and black licorice. (If that's too tempting, I suggest dried black beans and fall potpourri.)

That night as we lit some orange candles Grace said, "Mama, Halloween can be sweet and not scary, right?"

That was exactly the spirit I was looking for.

Has Halloween gotten too scary? How do you help your kids deal with the frightening aspects of Halloween? Click the comments link below to find and share ideas. You'll automatically be entered in this week's Comment Mania Contest. We're giving away a $50 prize for the best Dream Team comment — every day this week!

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