Friday, October 31, 2003

What Happened to Halloween?

I grew up in a small Oklahoma town where Halloween was serious business. Kids trick-or-treated all over the town and came home loaded with great candy and the occasional unwanted apple. There was no hesitence to go to strangers' houses. There was talk, always unfounded, of razorblades or pins hidden in the goodies in some far away place like Ohio or Texas but that was not something we worried about in the safety of Our Town. Every house (except the "holy roller" homes) was open to the children of the town and every porch had a light burning. This was a night that the adults worked to make good for the kids and we kids loved it!

Now I live in a city and a time where children must go to shopping malls to queue for tiny bits of candy handed out by the mall stores. We are relegated to malls because parents don't trust strangers to give their children unadulterated candy and most homeowners either don't want to be bothered or are afraid to open the door to masked strangers. My doorbell rang a few times tonight because I live in a friendly neighborhood with lots of children.

I know a lot of neighborhoods in my city that are not welcoming. The porchlights are turned off and children are unwelcome. What's wrong with these people? Last year I took my daughter out to trick-or-treat and we had a hard time finding anyplace to go. We ultimately ended up at the mall with thousands of children in one long mall-length line that shuffled from store to store. The children, not knowing what they were missing, enjoyed it nonetheless. The kids didn't even notice the jerk parents that shoved their kids into the middle of the lines so they wouldn't have to wait. This year my daughter said she didn't want to go trick-or-treating. "It's too much of a hassle," she said. I didn't let on how sad this makes me.

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