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What the fuck, Halloween?

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Last night was my first-ever time handing out candy to trick-or-treaters from my own place. Sure, I’d been the one giving kids candy from my mom’s house before, but there was something different about it this time. I wasn’t the girl handing out candy in place of her mom anymore. That made a difference, and I cared.

Mike bought a ton of candy. To be specific, he bought 11 bags of candy. I put aside any multiples and poured everything into a 8-quart stockpot. With two bags of candy missing, it was still overflowing. Awesome, I thought. There’ll be tons of leftovers. Of course, I didn’t want it to all end up being leftovers, so when our first trick-or-treaters didn’t show up until 45 minutes into the time slot, I started giving out fistfuls of candy. See, Mike tends to get excited and buy tons of candy or baked goods or ice cream or what have you and then completely forget and I become responsible for eating all of it. I didn’t want to eat 11 bags of candy. I didn’t want to get diabetes because I was stingy with the kids. However, the kids then started pouring in, and by the end I was almost out and giving out two pieces. Maybe small handfuls next year, Rachael.

At the end of the night, it became clear that my expectations had been too high. I realize now that I shouldn’t have had expectations at all.

Did you, as a kid, hate those houses that made you say “Trick-or-Treat!” to get candy? I didn’t hate it, but I never liked it. I was shy and felt dumb threatening to play a trick on people who didn’t give me candy when, really, I’d just walk to the next house that had the bucket out with the ‘take one’ sign and take a whole handful. (How much do I love that commercial with the little “I can’t read” girl? So much.) But when hordes of children started showing up at my door and staring at me expectantly without so much as a “Hi!” or a “Please!” or a “Happy Halloween!” I understood. I mean, I at least always greeted people. So I became one of those people who makes the kids say “Trick or treat!” before giving them candy. Whatever. That’s not even the point.

The point is this one girl. She ran up to my door with her sister close behind her. When I opened with the pot o’ candy balanced on my hip, she reached up and pulled it down. She didn’t say a word. I was too blown away to hold it back from her. So she runs up to the door, grabs the pot o’ candy out of my hand, takes one piece of candy, and runs off. What the fuck? Okay, one bratty kid. I wonder if her sister told her about the handful I gave her for not sucking.

The parents were the worst, though. Despite the fact that I had a lighted jack-o-lantern at the end of my porch, strings of Christmas lights lit up all along the railing, lights in the house on, and the porch light on, they wouldn’t let their kids approach my door unless they could see me waiting to give out candy. I was doing homework. I had to relocate to the chair in the corner of our entryway so that they could see me if they looked. One mom didn’t look and told her kid, “I don’t see anyone there, but if you want to go knock on the door and see if they’re giving out candy, you can.” Try to imagine the bitchy, skeptical tone of her voice, as if her kid was crazy for seeing a clearly decorated porch and thinking she could get candy from me. Isn’t the point of Halloween to go door-to-door and knock and ask for candy? Should I really have to leave the door open for two hours when it’s fucking cold out just because you don’t want to waste a few steps to see if I have candy when I clearly do? The rule as I always knew it was that if there was a light by the door, the house was giving out candy. Porch light’s on? Cool. We didn’t need decorations.

Who the fuck would put out a Jack-o-lantern and not give out candy?

At one point, a whole bunch of kids approached me in rapid succession. It seemed like five siblings from one family and two from another. They all said trick-or-treat, most of them without needing prompting, and they all got handfuls of candy. Then they all ran back to their parents (or possibly chaperones; I forgot that some kids go with their friends and their parents stay home). When they were out of sight, I could still hear the parents talking loudly to each other. One said something that sounded kind of worried about the candy her kids were getting–I wasn’t sure if it was the sheer amount of it or the fear that it was poisoned.

Another replied. “Oh, there are candy buyback programs.”
“Really?”
“Yeah, there are a couple places in town where you can go and they’ll buy all the Halloween candy from you.”
“That’s great! Where?”

What. The. Fuck. Seriously. That’s all I can say. No wonder kids are such brats–their parents aren’t even letting them keep the candy! Do they even get the money? And how much? At the end of the night, does each kid even have 5 dollars worth of candy? I feel completely ripped off. Do they even realize that Mike and I spent money on this? Would they throw a birthday party for their kids and then give away all the presents people bought?

Are parents treating this as a holiday to parade their kids around in costumes that the kids probably don’t even like? I’m reminded of women who buy tiny dogs and use them as accessories. Oh, look, I’m going to carry him around in my purse with this cute plaid jacket! People will love it! No, they won’t. We don’t want to see kids who don’t give a shit about the candy we’re giving them because you’re just going to sell it back for way less than they think it’s worth. I wouldn’t want to walk around for two hours in the freezing cold in a weather-inappropriate costume and knock on a bunch of strangers’ doors for nothing, either.

There used to be this house that I went to when I was little, sort of diagonally across the street from mine. The woman who lived there gave out candy, but she also invited everyone in. There was always plenty of mulled cider to warm us up from the cold, fresh cookies to enjoy, and I think there were caramel apples a few times. I loved going to that house. Maybe that is an unrealistic dream now, or maybe you’d at least have to live in a neighborhood where everyone knows you for anyone to come in. But the fact that Halloween paranoia has extended to not even keeping the candy is such bullshit.

Everything sacred about Halloween as a kids’ holiday is gone. There’s no knocking on doors, no visiting with neighbors, no saying “trick or treat,” no keeping your candy. All we’re left with, it seems, is awful parenting and the I’m a sexy candy corn movement.

Well clearly, I’m pissed about Halloween. What holiday traditions have you seen completely destroyed as you grew up?

About Rachael

Hi. I'm Rachael. I realized one day that, even though I read a lot of books, I often have a hard time remembering them later on. I guess that happens when there's so much to try to remember! So I started The 50 Book Project, with the intention to read and blog about 50 new (to me) books in 2014. I read a lot of fantasy, but I'm trying to branch out and experience new stuff. Any questions? Suggestions? Let me know! Comment, or email me at dearohrachael@gmail.com.

23 responses »

  1. Not really a “tradition” but the feeling of belonging to a neighborhood has vanished. The neighborhood I grew up in had 4th of July parties every summer, Holiday parties in the winter, BBQ’s in the summer… At any given time there were hordes of kids outside playing – Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring. It didn’t matter. Neighborhoods aren’t like that anymore. At least mine isn’t. I know the neighbors on each side and that’s all. Kids aren’t outside playing even though there are bunches of kids on my street. Everyone is on paranoia lockdown and I think the socialization skills (or lack thereof) are proof.

    BTW – I cannot stand when teenage kids come to my door on Halloween dressed as teenage kids and expect me to hand them candy. I reserve the right to sic my dog on those brats and save the candy for the cute little neighbor boy who is dressed like a Tiger and says “Hopy Haween!”

    Reply
    • The one teenage kid who showed up not in costume told me he was dressed as the Great Black Ninja. (Uh…yes, he was black.) I don’t think he understood that he was making a really obscure Beverly Hills Ninja reference, but I gave him candy anyway because it made me crack up. You’ve got to have a costume! And if you don’t, at *least* have something awesome to pretend you’re dressed as.

      The neighborhood thing is definitely sad. I think it’s one of the main reasons you can’t give kids cookies and stuff anymore.

      Reply
  2. I bought way too much candy based on previous year’s experience with being attacked by hordes of kids. But looking back, I might be remembering weekend Halloweens and not weeknights, which apparently make a difference. I have about 8 unopened bags of candy and a whole tub full of opened candy that I really don’t want to eat all of. Where did you say that buy back place is again?

    The teenagers are the worst, and we have lots in our neighborhood. There was actually a group of 3 teenage girls who came up to the door, said “trick or treat,” ASKED me how many candies they could have (instead of just grabbing a huge handful), were sincerely grateful when I told them they could take a handful and thanked me numerous times. I turned to my 6 yr old and said “that is what you need to aim for. Being polite even when you are teenagers trick or treating.” All the other teenagers were douches.

    Reply
    • Damn. I guess my street doesn’t have a ton of teenagers on it or something. The only one who showed up was (I think) my neighbor’s kid’s friend who I’ve seen outside before. There were a few others who might have been teenagers, but they were at least in costume and said trick or treat.

      Reply
  3. I so have to agree with you on the little snots who said NOTHING when I opened the door. There were one or two who were just clearly shy, so they were forgiven, but to just stand there without a “trick or treat” or “hi” or “s’up, lady?”?? Insanely awkward.

    Reply
    • Shyness is one thing. It’s usually accompanied by a parent saying, “What do you say?” and the kid clearly being too shy. Most of the kids who clearly tried to say nothing at all came to my door while their parents stood and chatted with other parents at the end of the driveway, so there’s not even a parental influence trying to CONVINCE these kids to be polite about it anymore.

      Reply
  4. After a few awkward years of handing out candy, I didn’t put the porch light on this year. Your rant assures me I made the right decision.

    Reply
    • Yeah, someone asked me, “Oh, are you giving out candy?” I thought it was a silly question. Of COURSE I’m giving out candy! Little kids in adorable costumes! And now I’m wondering if that was a mistake. I doubt it’ll stop me next year, though.

      Reply
  5. Dear Sweet Mama

    They had to say trick or treat. I even asked for a few thankyous. And had teenage boys start at the house at 3:30 in the afternoon. About 120 or so candy bars later, we had to put out the lights, blow out the jackolanterns, put a sign on the door saying no more candy sorry and hide in the floor of the living room. Big GROWED kids kept knocking at the door until about 1030p. And I loved the grandma in the motorized wheelchair – “get your black ass back up on that porch and get gramma a candy bar.” Needless to say, she got shitty star bursts.

    Reply
    • Oh man, starbursts have always been one of the worst Halloween candies to get. I used to have them categorized and ranked. Most anything that didn’t include chocolate was on the “well fuck THAT house” list.

      Reply
  6. totally agree.. I’ve taken my nephews trick-or-treating every year for the past 5 years and the first year it was tons of fun (it was their first year).. but then every year it seemed to get a little less fun..

    more teenage punk kids lighting firecrackers and getting the cops all pissed off and blocking off streets.

    more people giving out “un-trustworthy candy” … I haven’t found anything yet but I have thrown a few things away over the years cuz they were suspicious.

    more kids not even bothering to day trick-or-treat …or worse .. no thank you.. that one really pisses me off.. people are giving you something for free, you say thank you… I don’t care how old you are.

    more kids dressed up in completely inappropriate outfits…. it’s not called slutoween people… why would you want your 8yo to dress up as a sexualized punk rock fairy? What happened to people wearing scary outfits.. wasn’t that the point? Now there are bs costumes like the “Casey Anthony” mask… which is just wrong on so many levels.

    more towns not allowing kids to even dress up in costumes at school because it might “offend” others who don’t celebrate halloween.. for fuck sakes people, it’s not even a real holiday.. how can you be offended?!!!

    this year was the last year the kids will go probably.. next year they’ll all be in high school (grade 8 and higher)…. and it won’t be “cool” to go out trick or treating…. so then I just have to wait til I have my own babies and I can be one of those douchebag moms who dresses up her baby and takes her out in a stroller even though her kid can’t even eat the candy and so it’s all for me… ME! don’t just me… i like candy.

    Reply
  7. I actually found the whole trick-or-treating time frame thing a little sad. When we were kids, we would POWER trick-or-treat from the time we got out of school (which was ALWAYS a half day) until our mother said it unacceptably late to continue ringing people’s doorbells. My brother once filled an entire suitcase with candy. What the fuck is this bullshit 3 hour timeframe? HALF THE GROWN-UPS ARE STILL AT WORK! It was only my daughter’s second Halloween though, and toddlers really don’t need buckets full of candy, so we went around the block once and she had a fucking GREAT time.

    Reply
    • I wonder how much of the time frame thing is because so many parents drive their kids around all night. Man, I fucking HATE that. I don’t think any of the trick or treaters I got were driving. But yeah, Mike didn’t get home until half an hour after the time frame (which ended at 7, what the fuck).

      Reply
      • My mom didn’t drive us. We fucking walked, like you are supposed to! My brother would come up with the lamest costumes- first he would put on a ski mask and go around the neighborhood then he’d come home and wrap his face in toilet paper and be a “mummy” and go back around to all the best houses. He would walk MILES on Halloween. Fucking miles.

        Reply
  8. Sadly, the holiday has been shifting for a while. I think part of it too is too many adults have claimed the holiday as their own, parents included. It’s really a holiday geared towards kids, people! I mean, I love Sexy “insert random thing here” costume on the ladies, but the holiday is for KIDS.

    I know here, we didn’t see a single trick or treater and haven’t the last few years. Apparently, living on a main road, nobody brings their kids along it. At my apartment, I doubt anyone would come by because you need a key to get in each section of the building.

    It just seems like the holiday has turned into something very different from what it used to be.

    Reply
    • First, CONGRATULATIONS on leaving the 666th comment on my blog EVER. And on the Halloween post, too.

      I’ve always thought it was weird that apartment complexes aren’t awesome places to go. If I were an apartment manager, I’d probably try to encourage people to trick-or-treat within the building(s). Otherwise, especially in an urban area, what are kids going to do? I guess there are a lot of school- or church-sponsored events now, but where’s the fun in that?

      Reply
      • I remember when I was a kid, we had an entire block of townhouses just down the street, and my best friend and I would always hit them up – It was something like 24 homes in one block!! All you had to do was open the gate to the courtyard! The people there were always so excited to have trick-or-treaters since no one thought to go in, so we would get handfuls of candy!

        Reply
  9. I was always fucking ecstatic to say “trick or treat” as a kid, because it meant candy was soon to be had. And we worked it at night in the 80s–none of this daylight crap. If you were a parent and watching your kids, didn’t really matter if it was 4pm or 8pm, you know? You kept an eye on them. This year too many lame parents were busy texting on their phones to pay attention to what was going on–its the adults that are screwing it all up.

    As much as I love Halloween though, I really hate what Halloween heralds…Christmas. Not christmas itself, but the stores. The drugstore was already putting in christmas candy and toys and crap. Another week and I’ll be listening to Jingle Bells every time I walk into any shop. THAT crap has totally killed christmas music for me. Used to be I heard it two days a year, on the radio and at home. Now I get so tired of it I hide out. The oversaturation of christmas crap has turned me off. Way to go, mass marketing teams…I now don’t want to buy anything at all.

    Reply
  10. People suck. End of story.

    Reply
  11. wow. just …. wow. i live in Australia, and probably only 1 out of 10 houses participate. they want to copy what they see as fun American culture, but they don’t know the rules. orange pumpkins are a rarity to begin with, let alone anyone knowing what to do with them. children meander about in their street clothes and no one is out after dusk. the stores flood with decorations and costumes that no one buys and the entire affair is a dismal failure. i dread the final incarnation of the holiday when the marketing catches up and it becomes a big holiday here. GOD I MISS HALLOWEEN!

    Reply
  12. I grew up in the ghetto part of my town, but it was small and only a twenty minute walk to get to the street that gave out Full Size Chocolate bars. I’ll let that sink in.
    My mom hated that street, because I’d come home with two pillowcases full of chocolate and chips and lame “apples and popcorn from your friendly neighbourhood Christian here’s a bible too” family, and that shit would last me until Christmas.

    When I get my own place, you bet I’ll be decorating and I will hand out candy only to those who say Trick or Treat. Fuck that “gimme gimme” attitude kids seem to have these days.

    Reply

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