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» Friday, November 01, 2002
“Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet, Give Me Something Good to Eat”
I have a love-hate relationship with Halloween.
Most of the time I love to hate it. :-)
Okay, I’m not trying to sound like the All Hallow’s version of Scrooge. Halloween is great fun when you’re a kid. You have to decide on a costume--and it’s your decision. If Mom and Dad can’t afford a store-bought costume, you might be stopped right there, but otherwise it’s your choice on what to wear, an especially heady thought back when you’re seven or eight and your parents dictate what sort of clothes are appropriate for school, church, and going places.
Adults have parties, too. I didn’t grow up in the type of society where adults had costume parties, but I know people now who attend them and have seen them in movies. It looks like fun. There’s a great deal to be said about occasionally pretending to be what you’d like to be, rather than the mundane person you are.
On the other hand, I simply don’t get the furor surrounding the entire holiday. A couple of bat decorations, a carved pumpkin, some of that spiderweb stuff--okay. But Halloween lights? Halloween cards? Yards decorated to look like graveyards? And hundreds of adults going berserk over this (I left work an hour early last night and it still took me 80 minutes to get home!)? My usual outside Halloween decorations used to be two foam jack’o lanterns on the glass doors. After Halloween 1999 I thawed a bit and bought on discount a small light-up pumpkin and a small beanbag ghost and scarecrow, then a week before Halloween covered the little table on the front porch with a dark plastic disposable tablecloth and put Mr. Pumpkin out, flanked with the beanbags. On November 1 it comes in and is banished to the closet again.
After last year’s rest (we didn’t do Halloween because of 9/11), we had quite a glut of kids this year. I got two small bags of candy, 46 pieces in all, because the most kids we’ve ever had was about 40. In the last half hour (I’m “open for business” between six and eight), I had to break out the bag of York peppermint patties stashed in the fridge. The final total was between 58-60. It was pretty chilly (one girl who came up on the porch was complaining vociferously about the cold) and I was able to light the fire and have it all cozy-looking. The library/living room is our “quiet room” and there’s no TV; I followed the usual tradition by listening to episodes of The Shadow. The spooky organ music is always good for atmosphere.
There were tall kids and kids barely old enough to get up the steps. Lots of what James told me were “Scream” masks, some princesses, a gypsy, lots of generic fantasy characters (and probably TV characters I don’t recognize), and one adorable little toddler in a Blue’s Clues outfit.
I’d had two complaints in previous years. One was that if you’re going to go out trick or treating you ought to at least put on a bit of a show for the candy distributors and try for some type of costume, even if it’s a Groucho mask or painting your face and wearing Dad’s old jacket. It bugged me two years ago at the number of older boys who just grabbed a plastic Kroger bag and went around trolling candy (especially since I think 12 and up is too old for trick or treating anyway). The other beef--and maybe I'm just being old-fashioned--was that almost none of the kids, especially the older ones, ever said “Thank you.”
This year all the kids had made an attempt at some type of costume. In a couple of cases it was pretty thin, but they at least tried. I also noticed that all of the kids who were verbally able said “thank you,” even the couple of rangy older boys, the type who usually don’t think saying “thank you” is cool. Moms prompted the smaller ones and occasionally they made it.
It was a bit much for one dazed little fella, though. He wouldn’t let me put the candy in his pumpkin container; he had to take it from my hand, eyes wide and gaping all the while. :-) Wonder if Dad will have to explain to him today that some miracle hasn’t occurred and he can’t go out every night getting candy from neighbors?