Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Halloween is Coming

Once upon a time Halloween was a night; now it’s a season. Good grief! We’ve been eating candy corn for a month. My grandkids have made skeletons, pumpkins, and bats at preschool, Primary, the library, and the local Lowe’s Hardware store. They’ve gone trick or treating at preschool, the zoo, and last Saturday night there was a trick or trunk party at the church which included a carnival as well as the traditional round of candy collecting. One smart mom passed out toothbrushes.

The era of witches, scarecrows, hobos, clowns, and ghosts is gone, replaced by Disney princesses, Darth Vader, and Spiderman. Once little kids dressed in costumes, and teenagers dressed in black. For the little kids Halloween was a once-a-year opportunity to snag treats. For teenagers it was a once-a-year challenge to sneak over to the neighborhood grouch’s house to knock over an outhouse and soap windows. A generation later a lot of toilet-papering took place.

The treats have changed too. Once popular treats included; cup cakes, cookies, apples, popcorn balls, and an invitation to warm up in someone’s kitchen with hot chocolate and doughnuts. Now it’s individually wrapped candy and gum. It’s true Halloween is a celebration of deviltry, but it once had a touch of innocence too. Now with the addition of a mean-spirited element who inject harmful substances into children’s treats, parents have to supervise their little goblin’s treats more carefully. Heavy suburban traffic adds a life-threatening element to the excitement of wearing a costume and potential childhood carelessness. Children must carry flashlights and be accompanied by an adult.

Homes and yards were once decorated with candle-flickering jack-o-lanterns on porches and fence posts. Now Halloween competes with Christmas for elaborate decorations including electric lights and inflated yard scenes.

I’ve never been a Halloween enthusiast. My mother never allowed me to trick or treat; she said no child of hers was going to run around the neighborhood begging. My only trick or treat experience came when I was about twelve when our Beehive class went trick or treating to collect money for UNICEF and almost everyone gave us candy along with money for the charity. I did like Halloween carnivals which most of the schools I attended sponsored on Halloween. As an almost seven-year-old I lost my first tooth biting into a caramel apple at the grade school Halloween carnival. I lost my enthusiasm for carnivals, however, when it was my turn to be a parent working in the PTA.

I allowed my children to trick or treat and even made most of their costumes. Their trick or treating experiences were mostly positive and now they’re as excited as their children about picking costumes for their little ones (which have already been worn half a dozen times and Halloween isn’t even here yet), mapping out which routes to take through their neighborhoods, and planning for movies and activities after.

For the little ones there’s still a sense of innocence and wonder about the adventure even if they are attired in Hollywood scripted costumes. And today’s parents are geared for keeping a vigilant eye out for traffic and sadistic spoilers. I’m not sure I want to know what teenagers do instead of tipping over outhouses.

Once the pictures of costumed children were proudly displayed by grandparents after the holiday, but I’m doing my best to be with the times by showing you a few of my pre-Halloween pictures in advance.

Adults get in the act too. Here's a son-in-law followed by my son and his wife.

And some people don't need Halloween to dress up.


Kerry Blair said...

Oh my heck, Jennie! I LOVE the pictures...well, except for the last one. :)

For a non-enthusiast, you seem pretty involved in Halloween revelry! I guess all it takes is a few adorable grandkids to coax you over to the dark side with me.

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

I'm such a Halloween fan- Kerry and I are kindred spirits.

Jennie- that last picture cracks me up every time I see it! I love it. Want to frame it and put it on my living room wall. :-)

As for the grandkids- they're so cute. And I love that there's a mom somewhere handing out toothbrushes! I wonder if she's a dentist...

Cheri J. Crane said...

Cute pictures, Jennie. And I'm with Nancy, I love that last picture. =)It is suitable for framing.

Happy Halloween!

Jeri Gilchrist said...

Great Halloween pictures, Jennie. Oh my word, the last one is a hoot!
GOOD TIMES!! I feel bad that you didn't go trick or treating as a child and then lost your first tooth at a Halloween Carnival! Those aren't the best memories to base your Halloween adventures by. From the pictures it looks like things have really improved. Loved the pictures and the toothbrush story-- what a riot! LOL.