The Ghosts of Halloween Past
Published: 10/01/2011 by Susan Kehl
Children beware: While you’re fast asleep on Halloween, there’s something going bump in the night that’s even scarier than ghosts and goblins. Right there, creeping around in your house… your parents are secretly raiding your plastic jack-o-lanterns and eating your candy.
Sure, it’s wrong, but cut us some slack. That’s part of the reason we come with you, so we can make a mental inventory of the stuff we’ll sneak later. We’d carry jack-o-lanterns and collect our own candy, but trick-or-treating is supposedly just for kids.
If you ask me, it’s a shame. I mean, who can resist a holiday that’s all about costumes and candy? Most of us probably never outgrow the desire to dress up and go doorto- door to have our jack-o-lanterns (or in my case, king-size pillow case) cheerfully filled with candy. Yet when kids reach a certain age, probably around 12 or 13, it suddenly becomes un-cool.
And if you happen to trick-ortreat when you’re in, say —hypothetically speaking, of course — high school, it’s considered really un-cool. Okay, you got me. Maybe it’s not so hypothetical. My friend, Marianne, and I dressed up and went trick-or-treating when we were in high school. Unfortunately, we didn’t get very far. After a few comments like, “You’ve got to be kidding!” and “Aren’t you a bit old for this?” we called it a night.
Marianne and I reluctantly said goodbye to Halloween — or maybe it said goodbye to us. It was a sad realization. We would never again experience the thrill of collecting as much candy as we could carry, or of coming home, emptying our pillow cases, and dashing out for more. Oh, how we would miss that sweet, tempting aroma as we sorted our goodies and pitched the loose candy corn, old sticky butterscotch disks, and candy apples (although it turns out that whole razor blade thing is an urban legend). And, by the way, loose candy corn? Come on. Who were those people?!
Teenagers everywhere feel the pressure to quit and go “cold pumpkin.” Some people actually refuse to give them candy — which basically amounts to issuing those teenagers engraved invitations to egg or toilet-paper their houses. Some cities have even experimented with creating ordinances that set age limits for trick-or-treaters.
I think that’s taking things a bit too far. It would be quite a trick call, trying to figure out who is entitled to a treat. I’ve seen 10-yearolds who are taller than me. Are we supposed to start asking for ID before we give out candy?
I think I’ll just stick with my usual strategy and happily hand out candy to everyone — all ages, shapes, and sizes — until 9 p.m. Then I’ll shut the lights, pretend we’re not home, and hope the egg-ers and toilet paper-ers show mercy. Because after all, this story does have a happy ending. Although I long ago said goodbye to Halloween, I have come to realize it wasn’t goodbye forever. Teenagers should not worry. Years from now, many of them will once again experience the joys of Halloween with their children. They could even — hypothetically speaking, of course — dress their daughter up and take her trick-ortreating when she’s, say, six months old. Okay, you got me again. Lindsay looked so adorable in her costume that she got loads of candy, and since she didn’t have any teeth… well, I couldn’t let it go to waste.
Oh, and about that after-hours raiding of our children’s candy stash…. We really don’t eat that much. We just want a taste of Halloween again. And the truth is, when we’re alone with that plastic jack-o-lantern after the kids have gone to sleep, nostalgia kicks in.
Suddenly, we’re 10 again, reliving the magic of Halloween night.
Susan Kehl is a South Florida mother of two who is considering trick-or-treating this year as a ghost so no one will be able to tell her age.