Is your town doing the trick or treat ritual today? Like this afternoon?
Are you decked out, pumpkins carved, spooky items displayed, costumes at the ready?
Or are you so past that you’ve forgotten Halloween is fast approaching come Wednesday?
When we were growing up, Halloween and trick or treating happened on October 31st. We’d gotout at night—right after supper—not during the afternoon. Our parents established clearly defined territories we could cover. Word of mouth spread the news through our neighborhood as to exactly where the best treats could be found. And when to get there or they would be gone.
For example, one home always had homemade taffy apples. Another very special neighbor made caramel popcorn balls. Those were my favorite, and I always wanted to start there first. A couple others had homemade cookies and fudge.
Usually our dad went with us. Sometimes an uncle or my grandfather went along. Mom stayed home to hand out our treats. However, way too many of our Halloween excursions were hampered by cold weather, or worse, cold rains or snow. But weather didn’t stop us in our search for treats.
When I got older, I often was the designated “oldster” to take out my younger sisters. Again I was expected to follow the rules and stay within clearly defined territories. However, feeling important, I made sure to pass on the information about the best places to get those special treats.
Back then nights were still safe to go out trick or treating. That was still the case when my older boys were young and looked forward to the ritual. They learned the same rules I did. They also found themselves limited to the neighborhood territory.
But the treats had changed. Mini pre-packaged candy bars mostly filled their sacks. Some places gave out nickels, or dimes, or if one was very lucky, quarters. Homemade treats–not so much because moms were working now, and their time for baking very limited.
By the time my nieces and nephews started to do trick or treating, the October 31st tradition had pretty much faded away. Instead cities designated times for the ritual to be done and a porch light on or off indicated a treat might be available. But still adults accompanied their costumed fairies, princesses, warlocks, ghosts, superheroes, or witches. Very often these activities occurred on the Sunday before Halloween and in the afternoon. The afternoon! Kind of takes the spookiness away.
But once the kids returned home, parents had newer tasks: examine all treats before any got tasted, discard what looked suspicious, check cautiously for needles, pins or other foreign objects hidden in the treats. Saddest of all, homemade treats were immediately discarded. 😦
Today many communities don’t recommend or support the trick or treat ritual. Instead costume parties and treats might be available as part of a church’s youth group activities or a school’s planned activities around Halloween. It’s safer and these days with parents working longer and harder, many of those shared activities get dropped. Sad for the parents and the children.
Are there still kids that roam the dark during Halloween or the upcoming nights? You bet. But too often it’s the tricks and nasty deeds these tricksters are up to, and responsible adults aren’t necessarily part of their entourage.
So those painstakingly carved and very expensive pumpkins get smashed. Those carefully constructed, well-planned—ingenious sometimes—outdoor decorations lighting up at night and maybe playing spooky music, but delight families driving around to view them like they have done for years during winter holidays–well, those get stolen or damaged. The goblins are wreaking havoc over Halloween.
I have many great memories of Halloween, but one that’s been much on my mind as this one approaches is the time my grandson visited us over the holiday. He wasn’t yet 2 and had never been to the pumpkin farms/exhibits such as we have around here. They drew families with all their different exhibits they created from pumpkins, cornstalks, gourds, hay bales, and even some farm animals.
On a grand sunny fall day before Halloween, my hubby, my youngest son, my grandson, his dad and I all headed out to such an establishment. We had a lovely day. I bought homemade taffy apples, caramel popcorn balls and homemade fudge. (Reliving my past?) Also some apples. The guy’s got huge pumpkins, all of them heavier than my grandson.
Once we were home, the carving fun began. And so did the eating of all the treats. That Halloween was the only one we’ve ever shared with my grandson since he lives so far away.That’s what I’m remembering this Halloween.
What about you?