I just don’t get Halloween these days. It is a mystery unto me. Hardly any trick-or-treaters at my door. Barely a soul out on the streets. Fancy buckets that have most undeniably cost more money than the meager amount of candy that gets thrown in them. Kids who just don’t understand the meaning or the excitement of it all.
And for the first time in my life we are attending a “trunk-or-treat” this year. People drive their cars to a parking lot, decorate the trunk, then stand there handing out candy as kids go trunk to trunk. As if peeking inside someone’s car trunk could be nearly as fun as peeking inside someone’s house? As if walking around in a small circle gives kids the same character, pride, and satisfaction as trudging door to door for hours and coming home with an assortment of candy to rival Willy Wonka’s?!
But I get it. I know why many people have felt the need to abandon traditions of the past. I’m not even necessarily opposed to these new ideas in theory, but if this is the new state of current and future Halloweens, please allow me to mourn the past. Please allow me a moment to commiserate and reflect on how the world once was.
Dad would drive my sisters and me to the hot spots, with our empty pillow cases or paper bags in tow, where we could achieve maximum candy intake in a minimum amount of time. It was almost a contest for us, to see if we could surpass the stupendous success of the previous year. Pretty soon our bags were full, and we would head back to the car to lighten our load a little. People always gave more candy if they thought we were just starting out. Sneaky, yes. But not without merit. It’s not as if we went back to the same house twice. That was just unheard of. No, every house got one chance to WOW everyone with their treat selection.
And then we’d drive off to another spot, where the houses were close together and the candy was flowing. We knew none of these people, had never been to their homes, but EVERYONE kindly and enthusiastically gave us a piece of candy, while commenting on our costumes. They were enjoying it as much as we were no doubt. Some of them even urged us to take more because they had so much. And we always sincerely said thank you, even if we were a bunch of the shyest kids on earth. Because that’s just how Halloween was. Every kid knew the value of free candy. Even the parents who were following along behind the kids knew and appreciated the value of free candy. That’s why we went door-to-door for hours. HOURS!
By the time our fingers and toes were too cold to carry-on, and the neighborhood coffers had run dry, we got back in the car and headed home for the most delightful part of the night.
We would each stake claim on a part of the living room floor, where we would dump out our treasure trove of goodies and divide them up into categories. Kit Kats here in this pile. Eighteen of them! Blow-pops over here. Jolly Ranchers there. One-of-kinds in a pile all their own. Oh my, a Fun-Dip! Some of us (mainly I) would even go so far as to write down a candy inventory on a piece of paper as a deterrent for sneaky siblings, knowing they could be caught if the numbers didn’t match up the next day. A whole sheet of paper front and back!
Mom got all the Mounds because no kid had an affinity for those. Then dad, who had dutifully served as chauffeur, guard, and director, got to pick out his meager share of the pot from each child. A commission of sorts. An automatic gratuity already added to our Halloween stash. And at some point in those early years, he also started to “check” to make sure the candy looked up to snuff. Nothing unwrapped could be eaten. Anything "sketchy" was confiscated. And we were always told that if we saw or felt a razor blade mid-bite, to alert him immediately because there were a few nutsos out there trying to ruin the spirit of Halloween for everyone. For the longest time I didn't even know what a razor blade was, but I knew what a Whatchamacallit was and that's all that mattered back then. That year was the beginning of the end I believe. We didn’t realize how wondrous we had it in those days.
Well anyway children, some of us would then proceed to eat the candy within days, while others showed self-control and only ate a piece or two a day, making the candy last through Christmas. I happened to be a member of the latter.
Oh my spawn! It was so magical, and memorable! I do hope the fifteen pieces of candy you manage to collect tomorrow from people we know and trust will be treasured and savored, and always try to remember that once upon a time it would have been so much more, and next year it may be nothing.
Now off to bed my little goblins…mummy has to go have a good cry.