Ahh yes, Halloween! That famous leftover holiday from our pagan days when we would terrify each other with macabre dances and masks in order to chase away demons and evil spirits. Now of course this tradition has been modified to involve children dressing in costume and trying their hands at begging and grifting. I’ve often wondered if we haven’t unintentionally included a moral lesson in this holiday as the result of all this panhandling is often a sick child the next day… probably not.
This was the first Halloween for the RW Clan in our Hobbithole and it fell to me to succumb to the barely intelligible demands of the local children as they tried to extort me for candy. So with my Faithful Hound at my side, I propped myself up in my yard with an interesting treatise on perennial philosophy and waited for the neighborhood kids to decided which of us was scarier (no, I was not in costume).
You will all be happy to hear that I continued my proud tradition of annoying the children who came to receive their unjust rewards. Each child was told that they would have to answer a question correctly or they wouldn’t receive any candy. Their moment of panic upon hearing this was probably the scariest thing they faced that night. The questions were for the most part silly, but every kid I identified as a “character” (as they say here in the South) got a math problem or something equally difficult. I’m sure that the kids didn’t appreciate it, but their parents did and I managed to keep myself amused.
I have long lamented the sad state of affairs that is the current incarnation of Halloween. What used to be a night of sugar-fueled mild mischief and shenanigans has been largely replaced by plaintive whining. However, I hadn’t realized how bad things had gotten until last night. There were several cars driving very slowly around my neighborhood as night fell and just as I got ready to call the cops and report this suspicious activity I realized that these were regular folks trick or treating; modern style. Parents were driving their children from house to house so that they could run up to the front door, get their candy and then run back into the car to be driven at 2 mph to the next house. I swear that this is the unvarnished truth. One such car was helping a disabled child and so they are excused, but the rest of those parents should be ashamed of themselves. Just like presents aren’t the point of Christmas, candy isn’t the point of Halloween! The real fun of Halloween is watching your boring street turned into a slightly scary landscape populated with shrieking ghouls, demons, superheros, and fantastic creatures of all kinds.
I mean, if you really just want your children to have a sackful of candy, then just give it to them and spare yourself the expense of a costume and the time wasted walking around annoying the neighbors.
I am becoming increasingly convinced that we need some responsible anti-mentors for children these days. Adults who remember how to get into mild trouble without actually damaging anything or hurting anyone. It is said that wisdom comes from experience; what experiences are we giving our children if they never get yelled at by the creepy old guy down the block, or chased by some over-enthusiastic doberman? Can you really be said to have grown up if you’ve never given (or received) a wedgie, or tic-tac’d a neighbor’s house, or built a snowman blocking the front door?