Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What is the age limit to trick-or-treating?

I am accompanying my nephew, Hunter, trick-or-treating this Halloween, and I am just giddy with anticipation.

Hunter is dressing like Jason from those Friday the 13th movies, and since those movies gave me nightmares for 15 years, I hope the sight of him doesn’t stir up my old fears of hay lofts, summer camp, and psychotic killers that just won’t die. Me on the other hand, after thinking long and hard, I have decided to go as a journalist. (Am I creative or what?)

Over the years, I have dressed up like a clown (my sisters and I were a set), Strawberry Shortcake, Smurfette, a ballerina, a character from Lil’ Abner, Elvira, a hillbilly beauty queen, and Dolly Parton. Yep, I was a regular Lou Chaney.

Momma would haul my cousins and me all over the community collecting treats – real homemade treats. We got candied apples, homemade fudge, popcorn balls, and caramel apples.
There were also treats that weren’t made to be put in a bucket.

My aunt Gaye Gaye would always make cakes. We would scream “Trick or treat,” and she would invite us in and sit us down for our treat. I wonder if non-relatives were given cake too? Knowing Gaye Gaye, I would say yes.

Trick-or-treating would take four hours to visit 15 houses because we were expected to stay and visit with all the neighbors. We would have to listen to elderly aunts talk about new medications and the neighborhood busy-body repeating information she gathered while listening in on her party line telephone.

Trick-or-treating was an event for the entire community.

That isn’t the case anymore. In the larger cities, it is much too dangerous to allow children to go door to door by themselves. Parents are forced to drive them to house of people they know, and even then, they must sort through the candy to verify that no one put a razor in the candy while it sat on a grocery shelf.

Parents must also worry about unruly children left to their own devises on Halloween. For five years in a row before moving to Winona, my pumpkin was smashed in the street in front of my house. In fact, my entire street was covered in pumpkin road kill.

Every year, teenagers would come to my door holding a fast food sack and not wearing a costume. Personally, I think there should be an age limit on trick-or-treating. Puberty should be the cut-off.

One year, a teenager rang my parent’s doorbell and was extremely rude, and my mother refused to give him candy.

“I am sorry, but if someone wears that much cologne, they should not be trick-or-treating,” she told us after he stormed away.

Halloween here in Winona is a completely different ballgame. No one smashed my pumpkin, everyone was very friendly, and at 8 p.m. the streets were empty. (My yard did get toilet papered, but that is another story.) Organized trick-or-treating – I loved it!
However, I totally underestimated my candy inventory.

I purchased 15 pounds of candy for potential trick-or-treaters. I was out of candy in 20 minutes (toilet paper pay back, maybe?), and I was terribly embarrassed about having to turn my front porch light out when I had nothing left to offer. (I don’t think Winona children would have appreciated a can of peas or a Lean Cuisine frozen dinner.)

Happily, this year, I accepted the position of being the trick-or-treat-toter instead of the candy-bowl-holder. I’m only doing it for the candy. Don’t worry – I won’t be ringing any doorbells. I completely expect to collect my take from Hunter.

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