Halloween or Bust

What happened to Halloween?

Maybe I can’t speak for everyone’s neighborhood, but in mine it is pretty much non-existent. This year we had TWO children come to our door. They were siblings, so that really only counts as one. Had we known our doorbell would receive one measly ring all evening, it would have been those kids’ lucky night.

We did better during the pandemic. Hell, we did better when Halloween was cancelled after the October storm of 2011 that knocked out power for seven days. Forcing us to live like common prairie people.

We live in a nice neighborhood with seventeen well-spread out houses, and trees, and a wide street. It’s safe as far as neighborhoods go. So what gives?

I have been scratching my head and the only thing I could come up with is it’s just too much work for so little candy. After all, they could go to the lakeside community just a few miles away where they would make out like present-day Ma Barkers.

A friend of mine who lives in this neighborhood boasted on Facebook the next morning, “we got 69 children!” Am I offended? Maybe a little jealous? Perhaps. But you have to give credit where credit is due. Kids these days are smart.

I took my child trick-or-treating on our seventeen-house street when she was small. Her little, orange, plastic pumpkin would barely be filled yet she was as excited as The Pointer Sisters. I can still hear her sweet cherub voice, “mommy, look how much candy I have!” with as much enthusiasm as she would have on that magical holiday morning just a mere two months later.

“Yes, sweetie, I see! Wow you really made out!” was usually my reply. All the while sniggering to myself, knowing full-well she was being duped. If she had really known what a lot of candy looked like, she probably would have requested emancipation from her parents.

In my day, “a lot of candy” looked like a worn-out pillow case coming apart at the seams. Which is probably what “a lot of candy” looks like to the lakeside trick-or-treaters five miles away.

Does that make us bad parents? Nah. She has wonderful memories of Halloween’s Past. I think so, anyway. I guess I should ask her. It’s too late for an emancipation, right?

Now, we have enough candy left over to feed the entirety of that lakeside community. Candy that would put that little, orange, plastic pumpkin to shame. Candy that I have hit nightly, but doesn’t seem to make a dent.

In case you were wondering, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups go nicely with a bottle of Chianti.

It’s Chianti, I tell you!

Next year I’ll have to buy less, I suppose. Oh, who am I kidding? You just never know who will show up. Next Halloween those siblings will hit the mother-lode. That is, of course, if they haven’t smartened up by then.

It Ain’t Like It Used To Be. Or Is It?


I am not a lover of Halloween.  I’m guessing it’s purely for selfish reasons.  It sucks when all you want to do is finish your glass of wine in peace and the damn doorbell rings every 2 minutes.  But as a kid, I loved it.  Our parents didn’t make a fuss over our costumes.  If it wasn’t homemade, it consisted of a cheesy plastic mask with a matching outfit made of more plastic.  If you were to even look at a lit candle, you would go up in flames.

I remember my costumes to be simple.  One year I was a ghost.  A sheet thrown over me with cut-out eyes.  Another year I was an angel.  With wings made of wire hangers and some nylons.  When I got a little older, I made my own costume.  I can’t even count how many times I dressed as a hobo.  Wearing my dad’s shirt stuffed with some dirty laundry and blackening my face to make it look like I needed a bath.  The final touch was a stick with a handkerchief tied to the end.

But the best part of this holiday was the candy.  We went house to house with our little flashlights and pillow cases and within a couple of hours, filled that sucker with so much candy that the only way to get it home was to drag it.  And if it was possible to subsist on sugar, we could literally feed a small village with what we collected.

At the end of the night, my 2 brothers and I would dump all our candy out on the living room floor.  After my mom raked through it to make sure there were no apples with razor blades or unwrapped candy dipped in poison, we organized our loot into piles.  And we swapped.  “I’ll trade you 2 Bazooka’s for one Charleston Chew.”  And we had enough candy to last until the following Halloween.  Sometimes longer.

Today, I live on a street that is about a half a mile long.  If that.  There are about 16 houses in total.  There is enough space between each house to land a small plane.  Walking at a snail’s pace and then stopping at each house to beg for candy would take well over 2 hours.  We would meet up with the other neighborhood kids and go Trick or Treating together.  Our kids loved it.  They got so much joy out of it.  And you know those little plastic pumpkin head “bags?”  Well, they would just about get filled.  Just about.  But The Kid would dump out her loot and her face would light up.  She would ooh and aah and scream, “MOM AND DAD, LOOK AT ALL MY CANDY!”  All the while, I am saying “sucker” to myself.  Because she was actually getting scammed.  Bad.  Real bad.

Well, guess what?  She finally smartened up.  About 3 years ago, it dawned on her that her candy loot kinda sucked.  Now she insists on going to bigger neighborhoods.  Neighborhoods that have houses that are right next to each other.  Neighborhoods that consist of hundreds of houses.  With a thousand children milling about.  With lots of festivities and laughter and fun.  Houses with strobe lights and monsters hanging from the trees.  A Halloween just like mine.

Do I feel guilty?  Nah.  Because at the end of it all, when you ask her if she has good memories of her Halloweens, the answer is a resounding “YES”.  Sucker.