Sunday, November 2, 2008

Get Off My Lawn! Or why I didn't give out Halloween candy

I like Halloween, really. I usually have two full buckets of candy waiting--mostly the good stuff, although I have "filler" of tootsie pops and other cheaper things in there too (especially to give to teenagers).

I often do at least one pumpkin (sometimes two). I dress in costume. I like this holiday just fine.

However, this year I didn't carve a pumpkin or give out candy.

There are several factors:

1. Expense: Let's face it. I am looking for a job right now and cutting costs is important. However, that isn't the real reason. I have bought candy before in lean years.

2. Other Events:
We work on a steam train which did a special event on Halloween so my husband and I dressed up and went there right after my husband's work. Then we went to a Halloween-themed symphony. There is no reason why we can't go out and have some fun (and help the community too, with the train event).

3. Last Year: However, the real reason I changed my plans this year probably has a lot to do with last year's Halloween.

We live near a high school, so every year we get a lot of teenagers who stop by for candy. Last year, however, it was a bit out of control. Starting at 2pm, teenagers were crossing my garden and knocking on my door (I know since I was working on my dissertation at home). None of them were in costume.

Two were football players and at least acted ashamed when I asked about their lack of costumes. They told me their uniforms were their costumes. I told them I'd give them candy since I should have known it was just a costume and they couldn't possibly be on the team; they stammered a little and looked embarrassed, showing they had some feelings of shame. Most of the others didn't even have the decency to look embarrassed.

This sort of behavior continued until 10pm. Over half of those who came to my door weren't in costume. Groups of teenagers, mostly with no other kids and no costumes, came to beg. I had 8 year olds in normal t-shirt and jeans asking for candy. I had mothers with kids who held out their own bags and when I hesitated, they sometimes said it was for their "other kid who stayed home" or sometimes pointed to the baby in the stroller (often under 1 year of age) and said it was for the baby. Uh huh, your six month old wants my candy bar. Right, lady.

I feel like a cranky old lady shaking her fist at those "whippersnappers," but if people can't bother to dress up for Halloween, why do they think they should be given candy?

I enjoyed trick or treating as a kid, but I had to give it up when I got older because it wasn't something that teens and adults did--and I knew it. The last year I went out with a friend in costume we were both a bit tall for our age and we got comments about being a little old for Halloween. I knew that year would be our last--and I was 11 or 12. I may dress in costume now, but I don't expect strangers to give me candy at their doors.

Last year, I gave the better candy (in larger quantities) to the small kids in costume. I grudgingly gave the cheaper candy to the adults and teenagers. I gave cheaper candy to those without costume mostly out of fear of being "tricked" or otherwise harassed.

I guess I'm just tired of it. So this year I plead guilty to some serious Halloween Humbug. We went to participate in the Halloween Train at PMRR and then went to enjoy a concert. We saw lots of costumes and had fun. We even ended up on stage as finalists in the costume contest.

I enjoyed it more than getting up every few minutes to face a group of non-costumed 16 year olds who are shoving pillowcases at me and begging for candy.

If that makes me a cranky old lady prematurely, so be it.

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