Listening to Myself

Monday, October 31, 2005


I am not really a Halloween person at all. I used to really like it when I was a kid (my friends and I would even make haunted houses for our younger siblings, plan out our costumes and routes way in advance, etc), but I lost interest when my parents said I was too old to trick-or-treat when I was 11 or 12 and I never really regained it. Emma and I did make pumpkin shaped sugar cookies this afternoon though, which was as much as I was willing to do this year (and more than we have done in previous years). In the evening we did the same thing we did last year - we went over to my parent's house, had dinner, and played a game while I answered the door and dished out the candy. Emma is still not particularly interested in trick-or-treating (thank goodness, we do not need all that junk around the house!) although she did trick-or-treat at my parent's door a couple of times and helped hand out the candy to the people who weren't too scary looking. Last year she hid in the back half of the house and was far too scared to have anything to do with any of it, so I suppose this was an improvement. I'm rather hoping that she still doesn't want to do it next year, but I guess we'll see how it goes (and where we're living!) as it may not exactly be all that feasible anyways.

It is amazing how the amount of trick-or-treaters has changed in my parent's neighborhood over the years. They've lived there for about 15 years, and for the first 10 years they would get at least 80-90 kids through, and sometimes as many as 100 - 120 kids. There was one year when they think they had at least 150 kids come to the door. The last few years have really slowed down though - last year was only about 40-50 and this year I would be surprised if there were more than 30. Part of it is that the neighborhood is aging - all the original occupants (like my parents) all have children too old to trick-or-treat. Another other part is probably due to how expensive the neighborhood has gotten - it seems like all the people who have moved in during the last few years all have older children who wouldn't be out trick-or-treating. The city has also started a downtown trick-or-treat on the Thursday before Halloween, and this activity seems to have grown dramatically in popularity. We happened to be downtown for a late birthday dinner (Matt's birthday was the week before) with my family that night, and we couldn't believe the number of families out for the event. I wonder if a sizable portion of the population has just shifted to doing trick-or-treat on this night instead of on Halloween, and if that's a trend that will continue. At what point will people decide it just isn't worth the effort to sit around and give out candy to the 30 kids who come around, and turn out the lights... leading to fewer and fewer kids and more porch lights out for the night. I really can't decide how I feel about this. I have very fond memories of trick-or-treating with my friends (in this same town) when I was in elementary school, but it seems like things have already changed so much from what I remember it being like. Most of the kids who were out this evening were in the 10-14 age range, and quite a few of them had barely made any attempt at a costume (at least a third, if not half). I think in absolute numbers these shirkers are about the same as it used to be, but the percentage representation certainly has altered substantially.

The downtown trick-or-treat event is certainly easier for the parents, and it does have more of a larger community/camaderie feel to it than the neighborhood trick-or-treating since everyone is in the same area rather than spread out throughout the city. The downtown version takes less time, requires less walking, and probably safer (a lot less chance of having your bag snatched by the high school boys or all the other Halloween fears) but it does seem to lack a certain ambiance. I do love the smell of pumpkins lit by candlelight in the autumn air and looking down the familiar neighborhood street and seeing the cobwebs, colored lights, and giggling kids in a wide variety of costumes up and down the street. I went outside for a bit tonight, and I could barely smell the pumpkins and hardly any of the houses were decorated. I would have thought I would be young for nostalgia, but apparently not.


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