Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Halloween Non-Gluttony

I know this post is a bit late, but I wanted to get it out in cyberspace nonetheless. My brothers and I grew up in the woods on a dirt road with only a few neighbors. Rereading that it sounds like we were raised by wolves! No - we lived in a nice house with real, wonderful parents. But because of the scarcity of homes on our street we didn't really do the trick-or-treating thing there.

However, we lived less than two miles from our 5 closest cousins who lived in a much larger, more traditional neighborhood. This became our haunting grounds every October 31st. The moms would stay behind and hand out candy, while the dads walked (often more like ran) the eight of us around. We each got a glow stick to wear around our necks (seriously one of the highlights of the night - we only got a glow stick once a year). The houses weren't too close together or too far apart (most of the lots were approximately 1/2-1 acre). We hit as many houses as our little legs could carry us. There was always so much anticipation for the candy that would soon fill our bags. What kinds would we score? How many of each? Etc., etc. Then there was the organizing and trading when we got back to "base camp" (my uncle's house).

I don't know if I've gotten too old or cynical or jaded or what, but Halloween seems to have lost some of it's mystique. The picture above was taken two weeks ago. Crowded doesn't even begin to describe it. Because we now live on a busy, fairly major thoroughfare where no one trick-or-treats, we walked the mile to our old neighborhood to partake of the festivities. We literally know most of the people who live there, so we were also looking forward to catching up with a few of them. However, it quickly became apparent we wouldn't be staying very long. With every house we attempted to get our son up to the porch, I literally started feeling sick to my stomach. I just couldn't shake the thoughts of "What are we becoming as a society?"

Somehow, in recent years, our old historic neighborhood has become something of a "destination" - a holy grail, if you will - for candy seekers. I haven't been able to come up with a solid reason as to why. We've heard horror stories (no pun intended!) of people going through 2,000 pieces of candy, or a couple of hundred dollars worth of candy - in only 30 minutes. I would guess about 95% of the trick-or-treaters do not live (or have never lived) in the neighborhood - and it's a large one with 700 houses. I can appreciate perhaps wanting to take your kids to a safe neighborhood. I really can. But what kills me are the kids (and adults!) who aren't even dressed up at all, walking up to the homeowner and just sticking out their bag. What happened to common courtesy? Another frequent sight are the parents who drive their kids from house to house because they are literally too lazy to park the car and walk. Folks, these houses are not far apart - the lots are each 1/6 of an acre. Yes, the argument could be made that perhaps they have a disability or something. This could be true - but it's probably 1% of those driving. After one street, we walked home.

Like the juxtaposition of the candy with the healthy stuff?

Over the next 24 hours I saw posts on Facebook of people saying their kids collected 7, 8, and 9 pounds of candy. So I weighed our son's. After only eating about 4 or 5 pieces, his total collection came to just over one pound. And I couldn't be happier with that one pound. He got to engage in a fun, time-honored tradition dressed as a muscle man, he practiced his manners - always saying thank you for everything he was given, we had a nice family walk on a gorgeous night, we saw some old friends, and he got a bit of candy to boot. I guess I just wish more people would relish the whole act of Halloween instead of making it a race to see who can collect the most candy in the shortest amount of time - while throwing manners and common sense to the wind. Did anyone else experience something like this during Halloween, or am I just getting too old (and cynical) for my own good? -Carrie

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