I loved Halloween as a child. This was back in the dark ages when children dressed up in costumes usually created by their mothers, such as an old bed sheet with two eyes cut out for a ghost. There were none of these foo-foo outfits, such as kids wear today, with all kinds of expensive accessories. Also, back then, we had to collect our candy the hard way—going door to door Trick or Treating. From the age of about five on, this was without parents in tow. Of course we lived in Leave-it-to-Beaver neighborhoods, where it was perfectly safe to go door to door, even to the houses of strangers. At each house, we got one (that’s right, one) piece of candy. So in order to really rake in a haul, we had to do a lot of walking.
Halloween was the only time of year when those miniature candy bars were available. If we were really fortunate, we might get a nickel candy bar. Back then, a nickel candy bar was equivalent to the full sized $1.29 candy bars of today. The word was quickly circulated on the street where those houses were. When our weary feet could no longer carry us to just one more house, we made our way back home to survey our loot. I would dump out all my contents and organize them into piles—Milky Way bars in one pile, Snickers in another, Nestles Crunch, and so on—and count them. I don’t really know why I did this. It probably has something to do with my rather obsessive-compulsive personality. Back then we had really good Halloween candy, none of these Nerds, Starbursts, or Jolly Ranchers. Most of our goodies were chocolate, the only true candy. Of course we had lollipops, candy corn, and the ever popular Double Bubble gum, but the bulk of the loot was chocolate.
My mother was so cool. She didn’t confiscate all my hard-earned stash and ration it out to me a little at a time, eventually throwing the rest away. Nope, she let me have the whole truck load, to eat as much as I wanted whenever I wanted until my stomach was miserable. I’m sure by today’s standards, she could be hauled in for child endangerment. I also rode in the front seat of the car, never wore a seat belt, drank red Kool-Aid sweetened with sugar, played outside without adult supervision, and walked to the store by myself (to buy candy) when I was four years old. But I digress.
Anyway, things have come a long way since the good old days of the Halloweens of my childhood. Now it’s not safe to allow children the fun of Trick or Treating, so we dress them up in elaborately themed and expensive costumes and drag them to the mall, where they are inundated with handfuls of candy without having to earn it. Or Trunk or Treats, where they proceed down the line from one car to another, again, without any effort, where they are showered with candy. It takes them about ten minutes to haul in what took me three hours and blisters on my feet to accumulate back in the day. Where’s the fun in that?
Then there are the fall festivals, where, at least, there is the pretense that the little goblins have to earn their treats by playing carnival games where everyone’s a winner. Our church always has a fall festival on Halloween as a safe alternative to Trick or Treating. But here’s the thing. Where Halloween is concerned, I’ve never really grown up. On Halloween, I expect to have to earn my candy. Sure, I could just go to the store and buy ten bags of sweets, but that takes all the fun out of it. Of course, being a mature adult, I feel a little silly playing children’s carnival games. Plus, the kids in line behind me get irritated. So I have to resort to the only other method of getting Halloween candy. I make my kids do it. Then I can share (steal) their loot. But now there are bouncy houses at all these festivals, and guess what the kids all want to do? For the life of me, I don’t see why. There’s no candy involved in bouncy houses.
“Darion, get out of that bouncy house and go win me some candy!” I yell at my son.
“I don’t want to. I want to stay here.”
“No you don’t. You won’t get any candy.”
“I don’t care. I don’t want candy.”
What? Not want candy??? Where did I go wrong with this kid?
“You come out right now and give someone else a chance to jump in the bouncy house!”
“There’s nobody else waiting in line.”
Drat. There’re only so many times I can hit the candy buckets at the games before responsible adults start raising their eyebrows at me. Plus I can’t exactly go around with a trick or treat bag in hand. Sigh. I suppose at some point I have to suck it up and behave like a grown-up. Otherwise someone may hand me a nasty-tasting watermelon flavored dum-dum.