The Rise and Fall of the Great Pumpkin


This year, we had an insanely dismal turnout for Trick or Treating.

Two years ago, we bought two giant bags of candy and wound up going through a bag-and-a-half of it without giving much more than one or two pieces to each kid.
This year, we bought the same two bags of candy, expecting an onslaught. We got nothing. Rather than handing out a bag-and-a-half of candy, we are now sitting on a bag-and-a-half of candy. That was while being generous toward the end and just throwing small handfuls into kids bags.

I’m starting to wonder if Halloween is slowly dying.

While there are a bunch of us who keep the spirit alive, now grown into adulthood and certainly anxious to see our small babies and yet unborn children able to put on some fancy duds, be someone/thing else for the night, and collect a king’s ransom of candy. For some reason, this time-honored practice seems largely to be lost on this generation’s youth.
Yeah, we had trick-or-treaters. Yeah, most of them were young. Yeah, they all seemed to appreciate it and understood what was going on. It just seemed like there were so few of them. Like, aside from the colder weather, there was something holding them back. Parents, possibly. Lack of interest, maybe. Who knows?
We topped out at, conservatively speaking, 30 kids. At least one of my friends confessed only seeing 2. Some, from what I’ve heard, saw none at all.

If this bothers you or even scares you as much as it does me, especially if you’re a parent, then you’re not the people I’m talking about. Matter of fact, I’ve seen some incredible costumes this year, some of them in facebook pics. Tiny dinosaurs, little pumpkins, and even one particularly badass Danger Mouse costume which I appreciated the most, because it means that you’re teaching your children about what’s good. I’m talking to the people who are crazy.

I’m thinking that, as the paranoia of parenting grows, so must be the restrictions on trick-or-treating. Especially if the kid is of the age where he wants to separate from parents and walk on his own or with friends. Thoughts of abduction and poison candy sit at the top of their mind and simmer and, rather than let their kid out to play, they lock the doors and make sure that the porch light is off. Wouldn’t want the kid to see some of their friends outside having a good time and collecting tons of delicious candy for simply putting on a costume and taking a door-to-door route.

Another part of it would probably go along with the whole obesity “epidemic” which is “plaguing” the young.
You wouldn’t want to put the temptation of a giant pile of candy in front of a child. Especially not when he could get gigantically fat, or already is gigantically fat, or you’re worried about kids making fun of him because he’s fat.
I empathize to an extent. I’m fat and old now. Once, I was young and relatively thin. At least, when I was at prime trick-or-treating age. Did I devour my stash whole? No, I was regulated to one (maybe two) pieces a night by my mother in addition to one (maybe two) pieces packed in my lunch that day. My Halloween candy lasted until Christmas at least, Easter if it was a good enough haul. She kept the stash hidden from me so she could regulate my intake, as any good parent should. Candy wasn’t used as a pacifier back then the way it is now. Kids weren’t fat unless it was genetic.
Oh, and I was not poisoned, by the way. Never even found one razor blade or dirty syringe in my treat bag.

There is a contingent out there who thinks they’re fighting the candy plague. I know this because they manufacture things for them.
While shopping for candy at Costco, I came across a “pencil and notebook 60 pc. trick-or-treat pack”. Disney Princess variety.
Yeah, you hand out that crap, your shit is getting egged. Candy, man. Candy is what it’s all about.
We went out to find our treats Halloween morning. I spotted a bag of mixed goodies. Snickers, Milky Way, Crunch Bar, M&Ms (regular and peanut), Kit Kat, and, of course, the much-revered Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. The bag cost a fair penny.
Success, for me, was measured in Reese’s Cups. The more Reese’s Cups you collected, the better your run must have been. That’s why I always buy assortments which include them.

Aside from the fat problem and the poison candy problem, I guess there’s the abduction problem. This, of course, has an easy solution. Walk with your damn kid if you don’t feel comfortable.
If you’re going to restrain your child from their costumed rights because you’re afraid some crazy perv is going to pull a snatch-and-grab, either on the street or at a house, that’s bullshit. Get up off your lazy ass or be a half-an-hour late to your Halloween Party and walk with your kid. No matter what your kid says, it’s not embarrassing. You can lag far enough behind on the sidewalk that your kid will forget you’re there.

If it’s a weather issue, bundle them up. Under or over the costume, doesn’t matter. It doesn’t negate the point if you wind up being in a jacket. Take the flasher approach and show people what’s under the jacket when you get to the door so that you can prove you’re in costume. Walk with an umbrella.
Just let the kids get out there. Put them in costumes and let them see how cool it is to wear a mask and trawl for candy. Halloween is one of the fun holidays. No pretension, no bullshit, no dinner with the family, just fun. Holding your kids back from this for any reason may leave a small scar, enough to get them to resent Halloween. When they’re your age, they may wind up being one of those houses whose porch light doesn’t come on when the fire siren sounds. They may feel all humbug about it and decline participation, making it that much worse for everyone else.

Don’t let them lose Halloween.

Oh, and, incidentally, get creative. Try to make something instead of buying it from the bag. Some of the best costumes are clever and homemade and usually much more appreciable than the junk they’ll sell you in the Halloween store. Like Danger Mouse.
I wonder if, when I finally have I kid, I can scrounge him up a Count Duckula costume.

Keep fighting the good fight.

—end transmission—

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