The End of Trick-or-Treating

I am a Christian (not a very good one…but I try).  And I love Halloween.  I feel like maybe I need a support group.  It feels weird to me to walk through different stores and see “Harvest Decorations” but nothing for Halloween.

But, this post is not about how people are changing Halloween because they think it is evil and horrible.  They are welcome to their opinion.  Personally, if I could swing it, I’d be out trick-or-treating with the kids.  Getting gobs of free candy (and a huge selection at that) is amazing.  I am all about free candy!

But, alas, I am 43.  And I am definitely taller than the average seventh-grader.  And my voice is a bit lower than the average twelve year-old.  And I have hairy legs.  I do shave (even during no-shave-November).  But I definitely do not fall into the category of child.  Child at heart?  Oh yeah!

The Boy is 14 years-old.  And he is growing a really tiny mustache.  And he’s almost six feet tall.  And he has a low voice.  And he has a hairy rainforest on his legs (I’m serious….if he shaved his legs, scientists would declare this to be an ecological disaster as several microscopic species would lose their habitats).  All year, the Boy has been talking about going trick-or-treating, about putting on a costume and walking from house to house and getting gobs of free candy (and a huge selection at that!).

About three weeks ago, my husband and I sat the Boy down and finally delivered the dreaded words.

“You’re too old to go trick-or-treating.”

I don’t know that he was devastated, but I do know that he was not happy with our decision (which I completely understand).  If I was in his world, I would be unhappy…I did trick-or-treat in ninth grade.  I gave it up in tenth.  Went out again in eleventh grade.  We had one lady who suggested we were too old.  Oh well….I got a ton of good candy that year.

My husband and I suggested that the Boy have some friends over, watch scary movies, eat junk food, and have a good time.  The Boy loved the idea.  But kind of fell short on the whole calling friends and inviting them over bit.  For a couple of days, he made noise about some Halloween party and how he was hoping to be invited.  He wasn’t (no tears were shed).

Instead, on Halloween, the Girl went out with some friends of hers and the Boy and I turned on The Walking Dead and watched television.  Every so often, the doorbell rang and the Boy had the task of handing out the candy.

It almost felt like torture.  He couldn’t have the candy.  He had to give away the candy.

It was interesting listening to his conversations with the trick-or-treaters.  Many children forgot to say “thank you.”  One was trying to shove his hands into the candy bowl to grab handfuls.  One loudly rejected his candy/narrated his disgust with the candy given to him.

And as the sounds of each set of footsteps evaporated and the Boy returned to his spot on the couch, we talked.  We talked about his new perceptions of Halloween, of the fact that the courtesy he was raised with is not always shared.

We could tell when the children were super young.  They rang the doorbell over and over again.  The Boy and I even betted on how many times the bell would ring.

The last set of trick-or-treaters were teenagers, possibly older than the Boy.  He talked, with anxiety, about the sullen, drawn faces of the kids, how they looked at him with haughty expectation.  And he seemed aggravated by it, perhaps because they flagrantly broke the law/tradition/expectation?  Because they knew that people would be hesitant to deny them candy for fear of vandalism or destruction to their property?

Or was the Boy merely imagining those expressions, seeing his own feelings on the blank faces of the teens standing on our front porch.

When I was a child, my favorite thing to do with my Halloween candy was to play “Candy Store.”  I would sort out the candy by type, by maker, by name.  And I would have arranged in a sugar-spectrum around me different mounds of chocolate bars, hard candy, soft chews.  I would draw out how long it would take for me to make my way to the bottom of the basket, would eat the candy as slowly as possible, and would change my hiding places to keep my scavenging family out of my basket.  I did the work to earn that candy; they had no right to dig into my hoard.

Now, I protect my children’s hoards against my husband.  He will go through the house, searching for their stashes, will dig without conscience into their candy and will just happily eat and eat and eat.  The kids, knowing their dad’s powerful sweet tooth will hide their candy and we have come up with some clever locations.  My husband is not exactly a version of Mr. Clean.  So we have hidden the candy with the cleaning  supplies.  The candy has been stowed away with the video game systems.  In closets.  In secret cubby holes that only ants can find.

I have to admit, sometimes I stare at the mounds of candy that are in my daughter’s bag and remember “Candy Shop.”  And I want to sit cross-legged on the ground and sort through the candy, lay it out and see the wealth before me.  But it’s no longer my world.  And I didn’t teach my daughter my game because she might take it as my way of invading her privacy or getting into her stash.

The day after Halloween, I felt really guilty about my son being denied his trick-or-treating experience.  So while I was at Wal Mart, I happened to walk by the Halloween candy that just happened to be half price.  And the candy just happened to leap into my cart and there was nothing I could do about it but go up and pay for it.

He might not have a great variety.  But he has his favorites.  And so he can go through his own private sugar rush and go through detox and still be a kid.

And I know where his stash is too.  And I’m not telling.

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