Having spent a good chunk of my growing up years in America, I get all the fuss about holidays like Cinco de Mayo, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and of course, Halloween. Here in the Philippines, Halloween is a precursor to something more major, All Saints Day and All Souls Day — that’s 3 days of spook, ghosts, ghouls and for many — semester break and out of town trips!
Personally, Halloween decorations are more fun than the whole Christmas pomp and circumstance because it comes with the costume factor and I just love how everyone gets so creative!
Meet the Javier family
No one is probably more excited for Halloween than the Javier family. These guys take it to a whole new level because it’s the one occasion each year when they can celebrate the birthdays of their four kids (who were all born in October and November), one of them actually being born on Halloween itself. So I guess now we know what mom and dad were busy doing on Valentines Days all those years (*wink*).
“In our family, we celebrate everything, even holidays celebrated in other countries. We dress up for all occasions, all the more for Halloween. It’s a time to get silly and creative. And being this “weird” is normal for us. Of course Halloween is even more meaningful because it’s our kids’ annual birthday bash,” says mom, Joan.
How the Javier family does Halloween
The Javier family celebrates Halloween from the beginning of October until mid-November — from decorations to plates, tableware, sofa and pillow covers, kitchen towels, bathroom mats, everything! If there’s no spiderweb on that glass and if that towel doesn’t say BOO, you can’t use it.
“I’ve already collected a lot of Halloween decor over the years, and I buy them from everywhere, usually after Halloween when they are on sale. We put up the same decor every year. We just accessorize it and style it differently each time,” Joan explains.
Favorite Halloween Memories
Aside from decorations, thinking of the costume theme for the year and how to make it is what gets her excited. “I can’t think of a favorite costume or theme because they are all special to us. The brainstorming and the actual process of making it is the best part. The most exciting part for me is looking for branches and twigs around the village and spray painting it black for extra decor and mood for the house. The kids and I drive around the village, go to the vacant lots and look for spooky branches and twigs. The older, the better,” Joan excitedly narrates.
Halloween Cookie Kits
“Honestly, I am not a fan of candy. So I decided we will be the household who gives out homemade cookies. So every year, we bake cookies and pack them in brown paper bags with Halloween printed design. To me, everything is about the process. I know I can just buy the candy and get it over with, but it’s more meaningful when we all gather around the kitchen and make the cookies and pack them as a family,” Joan quips.
This year, the Javier household churned out 200 Halloween cookie kits that are currently being enjoyed by kids everywhere. “The idea started when we were making cookie kits for the students in our preschool. For online learning, tackle boxes are sent to them every 2 weeks, so we decided to include something for Halloween and an activity that they can do altogether via Zoom to celebrate Halloween. The cookie kits came out really cute. Then I had a lightbulb moment and thought why don’t we make more cookie kits, sell them, and for every cookie kit purchased, we will donate one kit to charities like Tiny Blessings and Buklod Kalinga,” Joan exclaimed.
These foundations are very close to her and she used to visit the kids that stayed there quite often, but COVID happened, so she hasn’t seen those kids since March. “They’re always on my mind and in my heart of course. So even though trick or treating is cancelled, the kit can be an activity for the kids to do — and it doesn’t matter if you have parents who can afford or if you are a street child or an orphan. This gives them equal opportunities and experiences because there’s just no reason not to celebrate Halloween because of the pandemic,” she shares.
The Cookie Kit project took 3 days to make with only 3 hours of sleep in between. Talk about a labor of love!
Halloween in the Time of Pandemic
I’m sure by now, we are all curious about how Boogie, Joan and their kids Kyla, Kiko, Ramon and Maeva are celebrating Halloween in lockdown.
“Just like the rest of the Philippines, it will be a quiet Halloween spent in Batangas this year. We are also celebrating my son’s birthday so there will be cake. When we get back to Manila, we will have a simple dinner at home to celebrate the annual birthday bash of the Javier kids — in costume, of course! I would like to think that our all-out efforts this year went into making those Halloween cookie kits, which was no joke. So even without the costumes and the trick or treating, our love tanks are full because we made 200 kids very happy and we are still celebrating together, as a family. That’s always something to be thankful for,” Joan concludes.
Who knew that Halloween could have so much meaning — from an annual family birthday bash to paving the way to give to the less fortunate. Halloween is not for the faint-hearted they say, and Joan is everything but that. And this is what truly makes her a modern parent.
Happy Halloween everyone, from the Modern Parenting team!