So we decided to really go all out this year with decorating for Halloween. We usually have quite a bit of decorations that we put inside the house…almost as much as Christmas, but Lynn and I have kept things pretty simple on the outside. But this year we put orange lights up in the trees, skulls and pumpkins everywhere, some light up ghosts on the lawn and the kicker was a video projection system I bought that shows really cool images on you windows from the inside. Someone observing from the street would see silhouettes of skeletons dancing, a ghost-bride flying around and even zombies clawing at the widow trying to get out (I’ll post an example later).
BUT…we had very few kids this year.
I don’t know if the neighborhood is changing…the weather being cold and wet, or the new things families are doing, like “Trunk or Treat” (where people park their cars, open the trunk and give out candy…I guess?) neighborhood parties at schools and community centers or maybe it was the “jinx” we’ve all gone through: buying tons of candy in advance. A sure fire way of limiting the number of kids who stop by.
But we had…maybe 2-dozen kids all night. And that includes the car load that rang the doorbell at 4:30pm. Sorry folks…4:30 is a little early. I would have given them some treats but Pippa’s barked scared them away before I could get the door.
I imagine a lot of what I’ll be saying on this blog, much like my FB page, will sound like a cranky old guy, but I’m OK with that. Sometimes I am cranky and I fully accept the reality of being “old”. But here’s my point:
Does EVERY tradition of our lives have to change over the years?
If you’re over 40 I’m sure you remember Halloween the way I do. You’d plan your costume for months. The night before Halloween…”Devil’s Night” you’d hook up with your best friends and hit the neighborhood soaping windows on home and cars and ringing doorbells. (No one lit a fire where I grew up in Westland, and like many things today, you can’t use the phrase “Devil’s Night” anymore, as if it would offend someone…The Devil maybe?) Then you’d have a little party at school on Halloween Day…nothing that big…perhaps you’d wear your costume to class…maybe not, but I clearly remember the thoughts and feeling of Halloween starting around 5pm.
Mom’s rule was we had to have a regular dinner before we could even get dressed to go out. So around 4pm we’d start bugging her about dinner because we wanted to rush through it and head out for candy. There we were, racing through some cheap meat she bought at Great Scott and made into a meatloaf (5 kids to feed). But around 5:15 we could hear the faint sounds of kids laughing and screaming. And sure enough, while we still eating dinner our doorbell would ring and you’d hear “Trick or Treat!” This caused panic among my Brother and Sisters but we were given “a pass” on finishing our meal and we would scatter to put on our costumes, leaving Mom to answer the door and hand out candy.
If you grew up in the 60s or 70s, Trick or Treating was like a military operation. You would head-out with a small group of your friends (if you were old enough) and head-out to the farthest point you intended to star-at and then slowly work your way back home. If you were really dedicated, you would hit-up houses on the way to the starting point, and then take different streets back. And, it was a TWO BAG night for us! That’s right…fill one up and head back out for a second pass. When the night was over I was proud of my accomplishment. Easily a couple of pounds of good candy that I would pour out and start sorting. I would like to add that some people back then actually did make their own little candy offering…often home-made and sometime pretty elaborate, and no one worried about being poisoned. (I still think that was a rumor started by the candy makers.)
But alas…I got my first taste of socialism from my very Democratic Father, who would insist we all “pool” our candy, and it would be divided in 5-equal smaller piles. And like most socialist policies, it may have seemed “fair” to the younger members of my clan, but left me feeling that all my extra effort didn’t benefit me much, so I stopped overachieving . (it really is as simple as that.)
My point is Halloween is different now. Very different. Maybe it’s better in some ways for our kids…more “inclusive”…easier on the parents…
But I doubt is nearly as much fun today as when we were young and free. I don’t hear a lot of laughing coming from the sidewalk these days.
Hope if was a good one for you, though. Happy Halloween and if anyone knows where we can donate 3 pounds of candy, please let me know.