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The Hallowe’en grinch

What do you do about Hallowe’en?

I get a big boot out of seeing the kids in costume. But I’ve become pretty curmudgeonly about having swarms of kids, teenagers, and even adults show up at my door asking for a handout. Several things make this custom problematic.

Most obvious, of course, is the cost of candy. You have to get the kids products that are individually wrapped, because many parents, wary of nut cases who lace treats with “tricks” of one sort or another, won’t let the kids eat it unless it’s in a manufacturer’s package. It’s pretty expensive, especially if you don’t eat the stuff yourself. Which I don’t. Any candy that doesn’t get handed out to trick-or-treaters gets wasted. I hate that. It makes me feel like I’m throwing money in the trash.

Next, there’s the issue of out-of-neighborhood families trucking their kids into more affluent areas in hopes of scoring fancier stuff. My neighborhood abuts a very tony district—we form a buffer zone between an area of upper six- to lower seven-figure homes and a couple of gang-ridden slums. So we get the overflow of kids being trucked into the swell neighborhood. Well, I wouldn’t let my kids run loose in the areas to the west and north of us, either, so I can’t blame the parents for bringing them to a part of town they may perceive as safer. But what you’ll see is twenty kids jammed into the back of a pickup and dumped on the street in front of your house. Some years, a hundred kids will show up at the door; some years, none. Just depends on which street the freeloading parents decide to use as a drop-off point.

I don’t mind giving candy to the neighbors’ kids, but…OK, ungenerously!…I resent having every kid in Sunnyslope show up at my front door demanding a handout.

When M’hijito was little, one friend’s parents used to keep a stash of expensive, healthy treats for the neighbors’ kids and a big bucket of the cheapest, grodiest junk they could get for the traveling freeloaders. Worked, I guess…but something about that doesn’t sit very well with me, either. Is it OK to rot little kids’ teeth and contribute to their budding diabetes just because the kids are poor?

And finally, there’s the safety question. This neighborhood has had three home invasions that I know of—probably more that haven’t been gossiped about. I don’t open my door to strangers. Really, you’re crazy to do so. Why should I make an exception for hordes of out-of-neighborhood candy tourists? Especially when many of them are not kids. I don’t feel safe doing that.

In my cranky old age, I’ve taken to turning off the lights in the front part of the house, which discourages people from ringing the doorbell. It’s too bad…but the cost, the abuse of hospitality, and the risk kinda militate against it.

Hallowe’en! Bah, humbug!


5 thoughts on “The Hallowe’en grinch”

  1. At least in my neighborhood growing, there were enough people that were really into Halloween that it didn’t matter that some people didn’t answer their door.

  2. You know, I think that’s probably true here, too. The neighborhood has quite a few families, and of course they’re all into the swing of things. So the kidlets aren’t exactly be deprived because one real-life old witch is hunkered in her cave.

    Another friend of mine lived in the NEATEST neighborhood. At Hallowe’en, everybody went outdoors and stood around in front of their houses and around the streets socializing. That meant a) the kids were safely supervised by the much-ballyhooed “village,” and b) everybody young and old had a good time. One resident put on a pumpkin-carving contest. He would go out and buy pumpkins in bulk and invite neighbors to create their best jack-o-lanterns. Then he put up a scaffolding–he was some sort of contractor and had a lot of gear like that–that they used to display everyone’s creations. There would be 50 or 80 carved pumpkins with candles or chemical lightsticks glowing inside them…really awesome.

    Not the sort of thing you expect to see in the big city. But there it was!

  3. My old neighborhood was a lot like yours on Halloween. Fortunately, I lived on a street with a deadend. A lot of kids passed my block by in the interest of getting as much candy as possible during the alotted Trick or Treat time because they didnt’ have to double back up my block to go over to the next. A little disappointing the first year I lived there but it saved me money because I had less kids than my backyard neighbors. 🙂

    However, we did get a lot of teenagers that were there only to get the candy. No pretense of even trying to dress up. No manners either. No “Trick or Treat” and certainly not a “thank you.” It ticked me off so I decided to play my own Halloween trick. My dentist office gave me several boxes of envelopes of toothpaste samples. I hid them in the bottom of my candy bowl. If you were a polite kid you got candy from me. If you were a rude kid or teenager with a “gimmie gimmie I’m intitled because it’s Halloween” attitude I palmed an envelope of toothpaste into your candy bag.

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