This year’s was the first Halloween I’ve been home for in a few years. Since I was a child, I have looked forward to Halloween, second only in excitement to Christmas. I can’t put a finger on exactly why, but I suspect it has a lot to do with the season more than the candy and ghoulish fun. Of course, I enjoy those very much also. When else can you become someone else so much different from who you are in real life and it be completely acceptable? (Beside Pinterest and Twitter, of course.)
Since we moved this year to a temporary duty station, we didn’t decorate as emphatically as we have in previous years. I didn’t even get dressed up this year, but I still looked forward to passing out treats to the little tricksters in the neighborhood. I had high hopes that Halloween would be different in our new place than it had been in El Paso. The general public has always been let on post to trick or treat during Halloween as a way to support the local community, but in cities like El Paso, you end up seeing more adults working the system than you witness the joy of the holiday in the actions of the children. It’s sad. Pathetic, actually.
As it turns out, it wasn’t nearly as different as I had hoped.
For one, the commercialism of the holiday has nearly ruined the fun of it. Not that I think this generation of kids needs to experience the pain of having the cheap rubber band fasteners on thin, dangerously sharp-edged masks roll up into their hair and rip out little chunks at the end of the night…ok, maybe I do…a little, anyway. I just think that half of the fun was trying to design your own costume and not look like every other flowered-sheet ghost in the neighborhood. Where is the creativity and pride in your costume when you look like every other Target version of the Man of Steel?
On a separate but similar note, why are we not pushing back on companies to sell us a decent product? I was used to seeing cheap, clear violations of copyright on knock-off movies and games while deployed, but seriously? We can’t do something to stop places like Wal-Mart from carrying costumes with blatant misspellings in the name of the costume? You can’t tell me that in what is now a “global economy” that the Chinese manufacturers can’t take the time to ensure their translation software is doing what it needs to do? Let’s stop watching our bottom line and start carrying products that don’t scream “I’M CHEAP AS HELL, BUT SO WHAT? SHUT UP AND SPEND YOUR HARD-EARNED MONEY ANYWAY!”
Two, when did it become socially acceptable to pimp a 6-month old out for free candy? These people aren’t fooling anyone. They know damn good and well that the candy isn’t for them. If they want to show off by dressing their baby up, fine, but don’t expect to get a bag full of candy at the end of the night. Yeah, ok, the bumblebee costume was cute, but spare me the trick-or-treat line. Just wait until they are old enough to know what the hell is going on before toting then around to get sweets. Instead, why don’t they have their toddler outside with them when they pass candy out to the ones who are old enough to get it?
Three, and sorry for the extended rant on people begging for candy, but I gotta hand it to some folks. Trick or treating without a kid in sight or with a bag for the imaginary second child? How bold thou art. Have some frikking self-respect and steal all of the “questionable candy” out of the kids’ stash at the end of the night like our parents used to do, huh? Here’s another hint—use the money they spent on their own costume and buy a big bag of candy with it. It’s all on sale this time of year, mooches! Get the hell out of the loot for the eight-year-olds in my neighborhood. You’re 40. It’s not that serious.
Four, I applaud some folks’ efforts to teach their little monsters manners 10 minutes before rolling out to trick-or-treat, but it’s obvious that they don’t enforce it the rest of the year. When I hear them coaching them right before they enter my yard, then they try to look shocked and feign embarrassment after the little brat yells, “Happy Halloween trick-or-treat please thank you,” then walks off sighing because he had to say anything at all—only to get a piece of candy way smaller than the king-sized bars they thought they were entitled to? Yeah. Parent of the year isn’t going to be an award show you have to buy a new dress for this year, sweetheart.
Five (and finally,) speaking of candy and entitlement, for the love of everything holy, if another kid stands almost inside of the candy bowl looking for the “good candy” and rolls his or her eyes, I’m going to boot them across my lawn. Kid? You get what you get. Even if I did have a secret stash for cool stuff like well-thought out costumes that don’t make you look like a 7-year-old hooker, it’s my prerogative to give it to whom I choose. I bought the crap for a reason, and it wasn’t with you in mind.
Now, I’m sure some of you think I have anger management issues, and you might be right, but I did have a pretty decent time short the cases-in-point I listed above. I got to show my 11-year-old how to be a little extra creepy this year and toy with some teenagers—that was funny as hell. I also got to see some pretty neat costumes. I also find it fascinating what the little kids get creeped out by. It always seems to be the stuff you never expected—a cheesy decoration or a super-simple mask. Very funny stuff watching a 4-yr-old stretch out as far as they can go to get their candy and not get any closer than is absolutely necessary. Kids crack me up.
We did come to a realization this year, though. We’re done with the standard handing out of candy routine. Starting next year, we’re doing cooler stuff. The yard will turn into something creepy or fun and we’ll have a backdrop to do Halloween pictures against for free. Maybe have some witches cauldrons full of nasty crap kids can dig their hands into. At least that way the kids can have a fun memory instead of us adding to their parents’ belly aches. They get all the good candy anyway.