I love this time of year. Geese are flying in the wrong direction, teen boys still wear shorts in freezing weather, and soon, costumed adolescents will wander to the door in search of free handouts. Who’d have thought a pagan ritual from yesteryear would be so popular. With all the invented holidays proudly supported by card making companies, Halloween remains in the top three. It’s the start of the real season, a preamble of sorts to November’s demise of Big Bird’s cousin and the bankrupting king of holidays, Christmas. Enjoy yourself. After January, we enter the bleak phase of our calendar where holidays go on … holiday. Don’t even think about Valentine’s Day being a holiday.
How often do youngsters get to troll streets in the dark on a school night? And those costumes, I nearly bust apart with emotion at all the cuteness. Bumble bees, princesses, and bears, oh my. Sweets for sweetness on parade in the early hours, for once the clock chimes eight, the young adults appear. Attention to detail on costumes is absent from class. Charcoaled hobo faces and tutus over jeans rule the streets, and they come with big hands, like those grappling hook arcade games. You’d think with all the quality YA fiction stories out there, they’d get more imaginative. Alas, it comes with teen apathy. We’re just here for the food.
In our new-age diabetes awareness era, I’m surprised Halloween hasn’t been cancelled as hazardous to your health. All holidays have their food vices, but nothing pegs the glucose monitor like trick-or-treating, known in Scotland as guising. I know a few people who give kiddies less sugary fare. We’ve tried offering dried fruit and natural snacks, but after an hour of pouty big-lips and the threat of getting really tricked, we gave up and made a run to the local market for chocolate. It’s bad enough I’m the Mr. Wilson (of Dennis the Menace fame) in a neighborhood of families with young folk, offering healthy snacks just adds fuel to my curmudgeonly reputation. Hey! I’m not the parent. Let them eat cake.
I was quite content in my youth to sling a pillow across my shoulder to fish for treats. I had six siblings and needed a cubby hole to stash half my loot so I wouldn’t be stuck with the stuff nobody wanted, like raisins. Who remembers shaving cream cans with a squirt distance of ten feet? We didn’t have chaperones back then to slow us down on the candy harvest.
So much has changed with Halloween. Now we have haunted hayrides, haunted houses, boo fests, parades, and if you’re real lucky to be near a major amusement park, professional fright attractions guaranteed to strip tissue from your screaming vocal chords. I’ve been to one … once. I came close to requiring a defibrillator to re-synch my heart rhythm. With all the scary TV shows, like Walking Dead and American Horror Story, it takes a lot to scare youngsters today. In our area, neighboring townships declare different days for panhandling tykes, leading to multiple opportunities to foster tooth decay (I’ve long suspected local dentists secretly lobbied for the change). Two years ago, Mother Nature dressed as Father Winter and dropped six inches of snow. That vixen. Today’s childless homeowners might revert to “no soliciting” behavior and darken the house to appear not home. Such travesty, and worthy of a rousing tree wrap of toilet-tissue (don’t tell them I sent you).
We look forward to the procession of ballerinas, soldiers, and yes, even zombies. I think “minion” costumes (Despicable Me) are popular this year. I usually carve a pumpkin, but my spouse won’t let me handle sharp objects anymore. I’m a big proponent of Snickers, Mars, and Milky Way bars. Nothing like the glow of happy faces to the thwack of quality confections hitting paper (or plastic) bags. So forget the guilt trip of trying to be good. Go booing and give the kids a treat. Plenty of time to get them back on track and ready for … Thanksgiving.