It used to be fun. It used to be simple. You dressed up in your store-bought or hand-made costume and made the rounds. It was usually a neighborhood event. You knew who was who because kids talked about their costumes for weeks. You knew who gave out the best candy. You knew where the old grouch lived and stayed away. You watched the sun makes its agonizingly slow descent so you could hit the streets as close to dark as possible. Everybody watched out for everybody.
If you were cool, you had a great mask … not the ones with the thin rubber bands that kept breaking. The best ones were scary or funny or weird. I remember the 3-foot tall Frankenstein who showed up at our door one time. I always thought the monster was about 7 feet tall, must have been his kid. Sometimes you had to guess what character stood before you. And then there are the middle school kids who don’t even bother to dress up – they just want free candy or else. They might come back with something you don’t want.
Things change. One guy started giving out tooth brushes. I didn’t think Scrooge showed up until Christmas. Then there are the people who handed out granola bars. Really? Then people started into tricks instead of treats, vandalizing homes, cars, and lawns. Not cool.
Today, you don’t see as many kids in many places on Halloween. Churches and schools offer festivals to provide a safe place – “trunk or treats” have become popular. Parents are afraid their children won’t be safe in their own neighborhoods. You have to be more careful these days with the items in their bags. One young man approached us with the traditional “Trick or Treat” and then added “no peanuts please.”
It’s sad when the simple becomes complicated. Sometimes I need to remember that not everything was good about the “good old days” but I’ll still be at my post tomorrow night ready to ask “Who are you supposed to be?”