There have been several posts on Facebook today about Halloween, including a link to a Huffington Post article comparing the “Mom of Today” with the “Mom of the 70s” vis-a-vis Halloween. I found that post vaguely amusing, but also observed to myself that when I was doling out treats to last night’s crop of Trick-or-Treaters I was confronted by the progeny of the same kind of parent described in the “70s” part of that humor piece. Apparently, the Ozarks is stuck in a time warp.
It seems like nowadays the kids assume that you know what they are there for and wordlessly hold out their open candy collection devices, which range from pillowcases to plastic pumpkins. When visiting this household you are not allowed to get away without at least minimally engaging with the dispensers of largesse, namely and to wit, my husband and myself. I like to compliment the costumes and try to guess what they are, often unsuccessfully.
One young lady informed me that she was not the 18th century seafarer I had erroneously concluded she was impersonating, but rather a lamp lighter. Her collection apparatus was a very nice basket, and after I apologized for my mis-identification, I made it heavier.
After I heard my husband demand from one group “Say the magic words” to make them chorus the traditional “Trick or Treat!,” I decided to use that technique on the next troupe. So imagine my delight when the approximately 6 year old buccaneer of whom I demanded this looked puzzled for a moment, and then said “Thank you!” Of course, I informed him that this was not the correct answer, so he tried again: “Please!” “How about ‘Trick or Treat'” I suggested gently. His face lit up and he obediently repeated the requisite request.
After I presented him and his fairy princess sister with extra large handfuls of Mars products, for which I received another “Thank you,” I returned to the living room. “That is a child who is being raised right!” I told my spouse. He agreed.
Of course, watching the kids out on Halloween night reminded me of the days when I was doing the same thing. They were much more innocent times. No one was concerned about poison or any of the other urban legends that destroy the holiday for kids now. In our town, there were no roving bands of marauders to terrorize little kids or steal their candy. If the older kids had dared to engage in such an activity, the victim would have immediately ratted them out and their parents would have given them some very palpable instructions behind the woodshed regarding the way such anti-social behavior was viewed.
We lived in the mountains of Colorado, and went trick or treating in the town where our school was located. At that time of year, many of the houses were vacant, their summer residents long gone for warmer and lower places. If you walked every street and visited every house, which many of us did, you only put in about two miles. Everywhere you went, there were adults who knew you and your folks. It was a challenge to costume yourself in such a way that those people could not recognize you.
Home made cookies and pop-corn balls were very popular items to receive, as were the wonderfully crisp home-made caramel apples that one family traditionally gave out. We always stopped at Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner’s home on the way to town, and lots of the town kids’ parents made the mile and a half trek out there with them because Mrs. Gardiner made the absolutely BEST sugar cookies, and they were always wonderfully decorated. Mr. Gardiner was our school bus driver, and you had to have a really great costume to fool him.
I bitterly remember the year I was NOT allowed to go out, since I had chicken pox the week before Halloween. Despite my pleas, my heartless mother forbid me to go out, and would not even send a proxy bag for me out with my sisters and brother. “There will be quite enough candy” I was informed. There was, and my sympathetic siblings came across with the goods later that night.
One of my most successful costumes was the year I was about 12, when my father allowed me to don his World War II vintage Crackerjack Navy uniform, complete with the dixie cup hat. My hair had recently been cut short, and when I was all turned out I truly was unrecognizable. It was great fun to flummox the town parson and the science teacher, as well as some of my parents’ very good friends.
That was a great Halloween, because NO ONE recognized me. It was also a memorable evening because it was really cold that night and of all the kids out there, I was the only one who was not freezing to death. My siblings retired from the streets pretty early but I continued on my rounds for quite a while.
At one house, when I sang out “Trick or Treat” the adults in control of the candy looked at me and said “If you want a treat, you have to do a trick.” This shocked me, because I was under the impression that if they didn’t give me a treat I was licensed to prank them. But, agreeable and obedient as always, first I did a fine cartwheel and then I stood on my head. They were suitably impressed, and rewarded me with a nice big handful of sweets.
I guess I’ve always had a penchant for cross-dressing. When I was in a one-act play in college and sent this picture to my mother, she did not recognize me. She wrote me back wanting to know who that man was I had sent her a picture of.
Hope all of you had a wonderful Halloween!