Is Trick or Treating in America Dying?
You know, when I was a kid (yeah, way back in the 70’s and 80’s) I always looked forward to a few things each year; school summer break, Christmas morning and the best of all…Trick or Treating on Halloween night. Sure, Christmas morning was awesome with all the gifts and the baked goods and yes, summer break was always fun being care-free and spending so much time outdoors. However, fall has always been my favorite season for many reasons and Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. And it’s not just because of the candy. Nope, I’m lying. You probably saw right through me on that statement didn’t you?
Of course it’s because of the candy. I mean come on, it’s the one time a year that you get a giant bag full of candy that you didn’t normally get and you got to have it all and eat it all and Ahhhhhh!!! Sorry, got carried away there for a second. Now, I’m sure many people reading this had parents that perhaps monitored your candy or doled out your candy a few pieces at a time making it long and drawn out, but then again, maybe you had parents who just said, “It’s all yours kid, go for it!” I basically had that parent.
My mom let me dump my candy all over the living room floor so I could admire it and see just how much “Treasure” I had acquired. Sometimes I looked at it all and felt like a big time bank robber…”look at all these riches I just got away with” the voice in my head would say. “I’m rich I tell ya! Rich!” HA!! It was a purely magical time when my eyes would fixate on the heaps of Payday, sweet-tarts, Snickers, SlowPoke, candy corn, 3 Musketeers, Milky Way…and yeah sure sometimes there would be an apple or two, or some of my neighbors were famous for their homemade popcorn balls…which usually tasted stale so they got tossed first thing.
While gazing wide-eyed at the candy laid out before me, I would always think “Okay, lets be smart about all this. Lets save most of it so that it will last until next Halloween. I’ll stash some in my sock drawer, some in my toy chest, some in my…” yeah, let’s be real. That lasted about five days and then my candy stash was bone dry. Nothing left. It was certainly sad when that last piece of candy was gone. And then, my mind would think about the next Halloween to come. The next opportunity to go Trick or Treating.
Okay, candy aside, the other things great about being able to go Trick or Treating was dressing up in costume, hanging out with friends and family, visiting neighborhood houses, drinking cider and eating donuts. Let us recall the cheap plastic masks with the rubber band to hold them on that you could barely see or breathe out of. And the thin plastic outfits that ripped open just by breathing. Or perhaps you donned a homemade costume you or one of your parents made…it probably sucked, but it was fun to make and it worked for one night. HA!
The decorations were another favorite aspect of Trick or Treating…not only for the kids, but adults alike. You got to see and experience the neighborhood houses all decked out with paper skeletons, lit up jack o lanterns, scarecrows, black cats and spider webs. And some houses went all out with orange and purple lights, strobe lights, spooky music, fog machines, and life-size monsters and creatures (even if they were plywood painted cutouts).
With all the wonderfulness (I think that’s a word) that comes with Halloween and Trick or Treating through the years, I’ve been noticing changes. Some have been subtle, and some have been fairly major. I kept asking myself…So is it dying? Will Trick or Treating as I knew it as a kid cease to exist in the future?
Good question. It seems in my experience the number of kids ringing my doorbell looking for chocolaty and sugary goodness has, sadly, been dwindling. Five years ago, we had 150 kids, four years ago 100, three years ago 75 and so on. I figure a few things tend to play a factor in all of this.
Now, if it’s snowing on Halloween (Which it has plenty of times here in Michigan) kids are resilient and with lots of candy on the brain, they don’t care. Kids will plow through snow to get free candy. I remember plenty of Halloween nights walking the neighborhood in sleet, snow, rain, freezing rain and so on. Kids didn’t care about the weather (well many I would say). Parents on the other hand…not so much.
The second factor I believe is safety. Now, I’m certainly one for being safe and keeping the kids safe. No question about it. It seems that more and more parents are concerned about their kids being kidnapped, hit by a car, weather related issues (see previous paragraph) and bad things being put into their candy (Which this topic has long been debated and depending on what you hear or read may or may not have actually happened. Certainly the numbers have been blown out of proportion many times) and the scariest of all…kids going into strangers homes…never to be seen again (Which has also been debated on whether or not this has happened).
So, with these concerns we’ve seen the growth of things like “Trunk or Treat “, where instead of kids walking neighborhoods, they can receive candy from friends and family via the trunk of their car at school or church parking lots. Seems like a good idea, I get it.
And last year, for the first time, I had seen a church with a banner out front that said “Halloween Candy Buffet”…ah…what? So, families could visit the church where inside were a few large tables set up with all kinds of donated candy for the kids to pick and choose from. Fill up a bucket and you’re good-to-go. They stay warm and dry, safe from horrible bad people and still get a bunch of delicious candy. Sounds good too. I get it. …and truth be told, a candy buffet sounds awesome!
Maybe, times they are a chang’n. I guess most things in life must change. Sometimes change is a good thing, and then again…you know what I’m going to say. I’ll be honest, I am usually not a big fan of change, especially if I’m not the one to initiate it or control it. I’m stubborn. Change can be quite scary and especially if you see the change leading down the path of nothing good.
I’m all for keeping our kids safe and sound, but there’s a big part of me that just wants Halloween and Trick or Treating like it was when I was a kid. Does that make me sound selfish? Yeah, probably a little I suspect. I feel that the fun and exciting traditions of Halloween and Trick or Treating are slowly disappearing. I feel like my grandkids or great grandkids may never know how awesome dressing up, running from house to house, knocking on doors or ringing doorbells and yelling “TRICK OR TREAT!” and taking home that big bag full of candy.
So, is Trick or Treating dying in America? Will future generations only read about the fun of Trick or Treating instead of living it? I suppose it also begs the question…will the wonderful fun pastime of Halloween fade in the future? Will there be no spooky decorations, no more amazing costumes, no exciting Halloween parties, no…Honestly the thought frightens me more than any ghost or ghoul.
Thank you for visiting my blog. This particular blog is a grab bag (if you will) a mixture of my thoughts, my opinions, stories, and so on...anything from spooky stories to things that happen in my life. Enjoy!