So here we are again. We’re nearing the end of October, which means it’s nearly time to dress up and go door to door and ask for candy. Yep, Halloween is only two days away. My kids look forward to it every year(why wouldn’t they?), and I look forward to it as well. I didn’t always look forward to it. I can remember one year in order to get out of taking them trick or treating I put on a mask and hid behind doors in the house and they trick or treated in the hallway, kitchen, living room, and bathrooms. Yes, I was pathetic. But things have changed. I’m not that pathetic goob that made his kids trick or treat in their house anymore. Two years ago we drove the kids from house to house. Not only was it cold and rainy, but my daughter had a cold so we wanted to make sure she wouldn’t end up with pneumonia as well. Last year was the most fun I’ve had taking the kids door to door in a long time. Probably since I was a kid myself asking for candy from strangers. There’s a new-ish neighborhood that’s adjacent from our neighborhood, so I took the kids over there to get candy. We didn’t have to worry about traffic, the streets were nice and big, and there were plenty of houses to hit up. It was a little brisk, and the wind kept blowing my then 10 year-old’s witch hat off her head, but besides that we had a great time. My oldest was 13 last year and I didn’t think she was going to go with us. She decided at the last minute her desire for candy beat out any sort of teenage pride she might’ve been carrying around, so she put some random clothes on and joined us. My wife at that point had been working evenings for the past 7 years so it was just me taking the kids out and about. We had a great time and the kids scored huge. Three Musketeers, M&Ms, Hershey Bars, Peanut Butter Cups, and mounds of Dum Dum Suckers as far as the eye could see donned the kitchen table. The kids sat around the table, counted their loot, and bartered like crooks divvying up the big score. It was quite entertaining, especially after a couple Leinenkugel Snowdrift Vanilla Porters.
What I thought was going to be just me and my 9 and 11 year-old hitting the pavement this Friday has turned into a caravan of sorts. Not only are my two youngest going, but my 14 year-old and two, possibly three, of her friends are going as well. I thought last year was the last time for my oldest to hit the streets in search of cavity-causing sweets but I’m lucky in that I have one more year with her going with us. I’m pretty thrilled actually. Plus, my wife will be joining us as well. She now has a job that gives her back her evenings and she’s excited(I think) to be going with us.
As a kid, I loved trick or treating. But I can remember going it alone more than going with others. My older brother was 6 years ahead of me, so by the time I was ghouling it up in the Pines and around the surrounding lakes in search of poisoned candy and razor-laced caramel apples my bro was counting baseball cards and listening to Motley Crue. So my mom would take me out, which honestly I didn’t care. I wanted the goods, not a pal to walk around with.
As far as costumes, they ran the gamut as far as what I went as. When I was really little they used to sell an “all-in-one” kind of deal. I small box that had a cheap little plastic mask and a vinyl suit that you tied onto your person. I was a Star Wars nerd so I can remember going as C3PO, Darth Vader, and a Stormtrooper. There was one year where we didn’t buy a costume so I wore a ski mask, and old coat, and carried a toy M-16 machine gun. I guess nowadays that would probably be frowned upon-folks thinking Isis had invaded US borders and were coming for their Fun Size Milky Ways-but in 1982 it was no big deal. Then as I got older the latex masks that cover your whole head came into play. Vampires, zombies, Frankenstein,…the whole Hammer horror superstars were used in the coming years to help me get candy on Halloween.
The last Halloween I went trick or treating was October 31st, 1986. I was 12 going on 13 and my best friend and I headed out for one last hoorah. We already had discovered girls and rock ‘n roll, so we were taking a chance at losing some cool points by going out for some tricking and treating(okay, we were already in the negative numbers as far as cool points were concerned, but we were 12 and in denial.) So we each donned some disgusting Halloween mask and headed out for the final jaunt through the pine trees and adjoining neighborhoods. We made it through unscathed, except for a few thistles stuck in the hair on our masks from jumping into a bush to hide from some oncoming cars. We came home, ate our candy, listened to Ratt, and watched The Stepfather on VHS. The masks were put away for good. Goodbye trick or treating… hello teenage years, awkward glances, and heartbreak.
So I guess why I love Halloween so much nowadays is because I want my kids to enjoy being kids as long as they can. Eventually they’ll put their masks away as well. They’ll look at going door-to-door for candy as childish and immature. The fact that my 14 year-old and her friends are excited to go gives me hope that maybe kids are holding onto their imagination, silly hearts, and belly laughs just a little longer. I know as I get older I’m starting to find those things all over again and I quite like it.