Monday, November 7, 2011

Reflections on Halloween

As I (still) recover from Halloween, I am reflecting on the differences between the Halloween kids experience today versus when I was a kid in the 70s. There are the obvious differences. The costumes today aren't a cheap plastic mask and vinyl to transform you into Frankenstein's monster or Ace Frehley. Kids (and parents, really) bring it with serious home made or store bought costumes.

As for Trick or Treating, a lot of places now have major Halloween Carnivals to supplement or, in a lot of places, replace the traditional door to door begging for candy. Where I live, we have both. The carnival followed by Trick or Treating in our building and buildings in the neighborhood. The kids make off like bandits. This picture is the pile one of my kids came home with. Hot Damn.

The major difference between now and then is the complete lack of fear we, and our children, have on Halloween. Is today really safer or have we been lulled into a false sense of security?

This was the scene in the 70s:

Mom - "Don't you eat one piece of candy until you come home and your father and I can go through it all. Do you understand me?

Us kids - "Yes Mom."

So, why did mom and dad need to go through the candy? To make sure no one had put pins, needles, razor blades or broken glass in them. Seriously. We went on the hunt for candy, hoping to score serious chocolate but afraid one bite could gut us from the inside. Nice innocent fun.

Those days are long gone. Even if I wanted to go through all my kids candy, it would take me a day. And the reality is we don't let our kids go at it with that candy bag like our parents did. We dole it out, one piece at a time. They will never eat it all. I will probably eat more of it than they do.

But as I stood in awe of that staggering amount of candy my kids brought home, I realized that those people who want to do harm to my children have figured out a much more subtle and insidious way to achieve their goals. Instead of pins and needles and razor blades, they have corn syrup, caffeine and Red Dye 40. They are taking the slow, patient route. But I am onto them and I am willing to sacrifice myself for their safety. I think I will start with a Butterfinger.


  1. Funny. I think of my childhood as feeling much safer - despite the razor-blade checks, post candy-begging. Maybe it was the being outside roaming the streets at night, the sense of freedom that came from being out after dark. The holiday carnivals and such-like seem designed to assuage parent anxieties about hte big bad world out there (esp for those who live in cities) -- so there can be candy for the kids but in a controlled environment to keep parents happy. That said, the haul is a HELL of a lot bigger now than then. I blame mini-size bags of candy. Makes it easy to give out lots & lots...

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