Halloween is coming up, and my children already have their costumes. My son has a black body suit thing to which he intends to affix black felt triangles, and is going as “Peter Pan’s Shadow.” My daughter is going to also wear all black and go as a member of the Dauntless faction from the Divergent book series. (Not the movie – my daughter is a purist like me and doesn’t like it when her favorite books get turned into movies because the characters never match up with the visions in her head. If she ran into Daniel Radcliffe on the street, for example, while most ten year old girls would screech “HARRY POTTER!” my cynical daughter would probably cut her eyes at him and call him a poser.) If I dress up as anything, it will probably be Sue Sylvester from Glee for the 3rd or 4th year running, mainly because the costume consists of a blue Adidas track suit which is scrumptiously comfortable. Plus, I get to wear a silver whistle. Who doesn’t want to wear a silver whistle?
My kids are going trick or treating this year without me. I have to be elsewhere, helping a friend with her unrelated-to-Halloween event poorly planned (and anticipatedly poorly attended) for the night of the 31st. My son, who will be a teenager later this week, is probably at the end of his enthusiastic trick or treating career. He admits this is probably the last year he will go. Of course, he’ll probably say that next year as well. My daughter probably has a few more years on her.
I remember the first year we went with my son, when he was finally old enough to get the concept of saying “trick or treat” and expecting candy. We didn’t take him before then, though we did dress him up before then and take him to carnivals. He was a tiger. He had this little tiger patch on the chest of his costume, and if you pressed it, it made a roaring sound. He was adorable, even if I do say so with Mom Goggles on. He was blonde haired and blue eyed, with a fetching lisp and genuine surprise and joy shone off his face every time someone handed him a piece of candy simply for the asking. So what if he got tired of walking and I had to carry him? I never had more fun trick or treating on my own than I did taking him.
The years went on. In my daughter’s first outing, she was a fairy princess, wearing a green and purple gauzy dress that lit up like fireflies. I had to carry her, too, getting kicked in the ribs with her glittery Mary Janes as she bounced along yelling “That house! That house!” Over the years we were princesses and Greek Goddesses and pirates and the grim reaper and a bottle of ketchup. I stayed the same. Sue Sylvester and her tracksuit, picking the Whoppers out of my kids’ bags.
Our house is in the middle of nowhere. Our driveway is steep, and we live on a relatively busy road and not in a subdivision. This will be our fifteenth year in this house, and we have yet to get a trick or treater. Of course, this doesn’t stop us from buying scads of candy, just in case. Normally we either walk to the subdivision behind us or across the street from us, or drive to a friend’s subdivision and do the deed there. Lately, my children have been separating, each going with a different set of friends and keeping a socially acceptable distance from the middle aged people. O bla di, o bla dah, right? They do walk, though, since I have taught them since before they can remember that if they want candy they are going to have to work for it. If you aren’t exhausted at the end of your haul, you don’t deserve it.
Halloween is one of those many holidays and rituals that is a whole lot more fun the less you think about it. It is kind of a bizarre ritual: let’s put on costumes and parade around demanding candy under threat of a ‘trick’, which presumably would be toilet paper in your trees, an egged house, or maybe a smashed in pumpkin or flaming bag of dog poo. My kids would never see their iPods again if they ‘tricked,’ so I don’t know why they bother saying it. I’m guessing, though, that most kids don’t even think about the blackmail aspect. I’d bet a lot of money that most of them have no idea that the words are “trick or treat” presented as an option. Most of them, especially the under ten set, probably think it is all one word: trickertreat. A word no one thinks too much about, like the word “snickerdoodle” to describe a cookie that contains neither Snickers bars or Cheese Doodles.
It’s fun, that’s all. One day a year, kids can go nuts with candy and eat themselves into a sugar coma, dress like superheroes and royalty and their favorite book and movie characters and who cares why. Don’t over think the fun. Just enjoy it.
Lori B. Duff is the author of the Amazon ‘Hot New Release’ Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza, a collection of autobiographical humor essays. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/loribduffauthor.