Monday, October 31, 2016

REMINISCING: Trick or Treat

It’s Halloween and that means costumes. Or does it? All the latest rage is to make Halloween the “Next Big Holiday” but there have been less and less kids out for trick-or-treating. Instead the focus seems to be on parties rather than letting the kids go out into the neighborhood. I’m torn on that, seeing both sides of the issue. However, I’d rather talk about my Halloween adventures. Well. mostly.

One time I was the donkey from “Hee-Haw.” (For those of you who have known me for a long time, yes, I guess I’ve always been an ass.) I’ve also been a clown. (Again, insert jokes here.) By the time I got to my teenage years my costumes had de-evolved into a simple punk rocker with some spray paint in my hair, ripped jeans, and a jean jacket. Sure, that was lame, but it gave us a chance to go out and hang with friends on the streets.

While all that was going on, someone was manning the homefront to make sure that candy got handed out to all the kids who walked up and down Walnut Street. I clearly remember once I reached the age that I felt I was too old to go out that I would help hand out candy. There were hundreds of kids who knocked at the door in full disguise.

When I bought my house just two houses away from where I grew up, I expected the same numbers of children to come calling on Halloween. For the first few years, we had a ton of kids stopping by. We may have even run out of candy a couple times. However, over the last decade, there have been fewer and fewer kids out for the holiday.

It isn’t just at our house. The whole neighborhood has their numbers fall off. At the same time, I’ve seen more and more kids coming in vans and working their way through the neighborhood. I’m not talking about a van dropping off kids at the corner and then picking them back up when they’ve done the entire block. I’m talking about vans slowly rolling from house to house. How lazy have we become? Come on, let them walk!

Sure, there are neighborhoods that still get tons of trick or treaters. Carlisle Garden is one of those neighborhoods. I’d bet there are still van loads of princesses and Jedis dropped off for the ever-elusive golden ticket of Halloween candies.

When I was a kid, Carlisle Gardens was the place to go on Halloween. The moment we were old enough not to have to hold parental hands, off we went to the Gardens. Everyone “knew” of the place that handed out king-size candy bars. We just had to go there. Despite never getting those big bars, we continued to go anyway. The stories wouldn’t die.

My kids had a Halloween party this year. Wendy had to put up with 31 kids crammed into our house. She’s a saint. Anyway, I’m sure there were such parties when I was a kid. I just didn’t get invited to them. It seems more prevalent these days, though, to have these parties rather than go out in the evening.

Part of this trend likely has to do with the way the world has become. We tend to be afraid of our own shadows, and all the loonies out there don’t help the situation. There are bad people out there, and Halloween is the perfect  opportunity for them to strike.

I miss the old days when you could dress your children up and send them out into the neighborhood to collect candy. Of course, when they got home, the candy would be poured out onto the table. Candy with questionable wrappers and opened candies would be tossed into the trash. Then, Mom and Dad would take their parent task, give us a couple pieces, and hide the rest of the candy to protect our tummies against rotgut.

We still go through the candy with our kids, but we do let them go out. Of course, Wendy still walks with Josephine and Corliss. The twins are at that age where they’re attempting to break free of the nest and forge their own paths. We let them go out on their own, but they still need to stick close to home. One of the twins tried this year to go all the way across town. It’s not happening. We’ll keep tabs on her to make sure she stays where she is supposed to. Yes, there still is a neighborhood watch. Parents know more than their kids expect.

Craig Bacon still likes Hee-Haw. And he will be taking a Dad Tax when the kids get back to the house.

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