I spent my Halloween asking myself the following questions: Who starts trick-or-treating at 3:30? Don’t people knock anymore? When did kids stop wearing costumes? When did parents start trick-or-treating for themselves?
I don’t think Halloween has ever been more stressful and bizarre than it was this year. For the first time in over ten years, we actually live somewhere where people come to your door on the holiday. I was actually excited. Little 2 and 3 year olds in ladybug and pumpkin costumes is my favorite part.
I gauged my preparation for the evening based on experience from years ago and figured the madness would start around 4 or 4:30 and end around 7:30. I was wrong. At 3:30pm we were hit with a wave of about 7 trick-or-treaters of all different ages. I was officially confused. What was this? Didn’t the smallest of the small usually start first? Weren’t people supposed to have a little dinner before they let their kids run wild? I started hoping it was a fluke, maybe a group of over excited kids hitting the houses early hoping to get the best candy. Wrong again. 10 minutes later we got another knock. By 5pm we had lines from our door to the sidewalk. Did Halloween evening now start during mid-afternoon? This all seemed very wrong to me.
Another strange thing seemed to happen. People would run up our steps and look in the door. No knocking. No trick-or-treat scream. They’d just look in. And, if they didn’t see us right there at that very moment, they’d run back down with the assumption we didn’t have any candy. We had done the typical things people do during these times to signify that they have candy: We had our pumpkins out and our porch light on. Every indication would suggest we were home and welcome to visitors. But, this pattern kept happening over and over again. Did someone fail to send me the memo about standing at the door for a solid 3 hours? How the hell am I suppose to know you’re there if you don’t knock on the f***ing door. To mitigate the problem, I put a sign in the door saying, “Please knock: Happy Halloween, but people started avoiding the house because, without bothering to read the sign, they assumed it meant we’re not home. So, the sign came down. And my frustration grew.
Even during the earliest hours of the whole affair, I was shocked by the number of children trick-or-treating without costumes. No effort. Not even a little face paint. Just jeans, a t-shirt, and a backpack for candy. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the point of trick-or-treating to dress up? Smear your face in strawberry jelly for all I care, but at least show me a little effort. I was tempted to withhold candy from those individuals that failed to don a costume, but I didn’t want to be stamped as the house that’s mean and doesn’t give out candy (wouldn’t that be terrible!). Then there are all those kids that don’t say trick-or-treat anymore. You open the door and the hand goes in the bowl without a single word. Um, isn’t it called trick-or-treating for a reason? I guess that traditional tradition has been thrown out the window too. There were some cute kids that got confused, like a little boy who said, “Trick-or-Treat, I mean Happy Halloween.” Maybe they’ve stopped teaching kids proper Halloween etiquette? I actually got more “thank yous” than “Trick-or-Treats” throughout the night. Well to all the young children out there thank you for saying thank you, but next year don’t assume we’re going to give you candy if you just stand there when our door opens.
I think my final straw for the evening was the parents. When I was a kid, in the prime of my trick-or-treating days, parents stood on the sidewalk and watched their children from afar. Only those parents with infants or shy children came to the door. And, parents never, ever ever asked for candy. I was appalled at the number of parents who came to the door with a bag for themselves. Haven’t they ever learned of taking it from their kids? It was actually almost disgusting the number of parents who stuck their bag in front of my face saying “don’t forget me too.” Well why the hell not? You’re a grown person! If you want candy get it yourself! If I counted the number of adults I gave candy to versus the number of children I gave candy to it would be a tie. These weren’t parents holding their kids bags or doing it for their children. These were parents doing it for themselves. They took away one of the only things I actually enjoy about the holiday: cute little kids.
Don’t get me wrong there were some adorable little kids, in some adorable little costumes. We saw a kid dressed as Max from Where the Wild Things Are. There were fairies and ghosts and zombies and one of the cutest ladybugs I’ve ever seen. But, each time I try to think about those adorable moments, I’m stuck thinking about all the things that made me cringe and want to pull my hair.
I’m more than a bit thankful that Halloween only comes once a year.