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.”
“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?