Fighting the Halloween Fear Factor

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From the Editors: Dream Team parents always have great tricks up their sleeves. So for Halloween, they've shared the secrets behind their favorite homemade costumes. Check out their stories and photos in our round-up of The Dream Team's Favorite Halloween Costumes.

"No, Mama. Too carry." (Translation: "Too scary.") I'll never forget Grace's little 2-year-old response as I prepped her for trick-or-treating.

She'd been Halloween-crazy until our neighbors began to show their serious spirit by pulling the skeletons from their closets and ghoulishly haunting the paths to their front doors.

When I explained it was all just pretend and promised to her hold her hand while trick-or-treating, she nodded with understanding. But just when I thought I was making headway, she shook her little head the other way and said, "'Til too carry. No tick-or-teeting."

We'd made the costume a month earlier — "Pee Pan" (Peter Pan) — and Grace was wearing it every day in anticipation. The dressing-up, the pumpkin-carving, the doorbell ringing, the candy — she was full-throttle Halloween until the dark side of the holiday began to eclipse the fun of it. I was disappointed that fear was going to make her miss out on fully celebrating one of my favorite holidays — I wait all year for those mini Snickers® bars.

On the eve of the big night, my pint-size Peter Pan marched into the living room and declared that our little dog, Buster, needed to dress up, too. I seized the opportunity and did a little negotiating. Would she at least try trick-or-treating if I made Buster a costume and he came with us? With Grace's agreement, some scraps from her homemade costume and a quick trip to the craft store, Buster was magically transformed into Tinkerbell, Peter Pan's sidekick.

The sun set on the big day, and I tried to hide my own nervousness for her as the Jack-o-Lanterns began to light the night with their eerie, toothless grins.

I consoled myself with that fact that at least she and Buster looked adorable together. As we marched up to the first of the scary houses in the neighborhood, Grace hesitated for only a moment, looked back at me and said, "Buster makes me feel brave." I was surprised and elated as she let go of my hand and confidently negotiated the path lined with illuminated skulls to ring the doorbell.

I don't know who got more goodies that night, Grace or Buster, but I got the best treat of all — even better than a Snickers® bar — seeing Peter Pan and Tinkerbell fearlessly conquer the night together.

How does your family deal with the scary aspects of Halloween? Click the comments link below to find and share ideas.

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