Friday, October 31, 2014

A new appreciation of Halloween

I've never been excited about Halloween. I don't decorate my house or yard, and I haven't worn a costume probably since I was twelve or thereabouts. Sure, when my kids were little we went door to door, and when they were older they concocted elaborate horror houses at the front door to scare trick-or-treaters. But to my mind the whole thing has been blown out of proportion.
I suppose living alone for many years has added to my feeling. Once I had an empty nest, I dreaded giving out treats, especially when rather large teenagers came to my door. Finally I just turned off all the lights and worked at my computer in the dark, ignoring the whole thing.
But for the last few years, I have been taking candy and going next door to co-host the trick-or-treating. Usually Jay is home and he and Susan alternate giving out treats but tonight he wasn't home, and I helped give out candy. While I ate the delicious beef stew that Susan always makes, she manned the candy table. Then we switched so she could eat.
We live in one of those inner-city neighborhoods where children are brought in carloads from other neighborhoods--a nice, safe neighborhood with abundant candy. Susan, her father, and I estimate we gave had 500 children (including some adults and some who came back for a second go-round) between 6:00 and 8:15 when we shut it down. Of those, I recognized one family and one other child, a good friend of Jacob's. I used to resent that, particularly when grown women took handfuls of candy. But a friend said to me, "Judy, that may be all they've had to eat today." And it occurred to me that they might also be building a stash for when they couldn't buy their children candy. Then again, they might have been just greedy, but why think the worst of people. Susan bypassed that problem tonight by putting two pieces in each bag herself--it worked wonderfully well, except for one child who was too young to know better and one who was too old not to know better. When I said, "Not cool," he turned and gave me a long look. Maybe he isn't used to being corrected.
Almost every child we gave candy to was polite--often if they forgot the "Thank you," there was a parent nearby to remind them. And some of them simply sparkled with excitement, their eyes dancing. You couldn't help but share their enthusiasm and joy. Some were so little they had to be encouraged where to go, what to say--I think Mom and Dad were the ones getting a kick out of trick or treating, and the kids were simply bewildered. But the atmosphere was one of neighborliness, respect, and friendship. I loved it.
Traffic of course is a nightmare, and I did hear of one unpleasant altercation between two drivers who were trying to pass each other with cars parked on either side of our narrow older streets--apparently there was vulgarity and some animosity about who lived in the neighborhood and who didn't. I hate that. It ruined the atmosphere of the evening.
On the other hand, our municipal ambulance service, MedStar, brought two severely handicapped children, each in an ambulance, to trick or treat on the next street over. Such generosity and caring epitomizes our neighborhood...and our city. And I'm proud of it.
So Happy Hallow's Eve everyone!  There is historical and religious significance to this holiday, which may be why I resent the hoopla a bit. Just as many of us feel about Christmas. But after tonight I look forward to next year.

1 comment:

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Hubby always buys candy hoping for trick-or-treaters, but none are brave enough to trek down our long driveway past our many barking dogs. The only kids who came by were a couple of great-grands brought by their grandparents. We'll eat the rest of the candy. Hmmmm, maybe that's his true motive.