As much as it pains me to start a post with “kids these days,” I have to. The holiday demands it. So here goes. Kids these days have no idea how great Halloween used to be. Today is a safe, watered down version. Like paying to see an R-rated movie and finding out it’s PG-13. Or worse yet, that it’s been edited with lame words like ‘gosh-darn’ and ‘fudge.’
We used to have Halloweens like those scenes in E.T., with hordes of kids packing the streets. We’d think nothing of sitting down at some stranger’s kitchen table to close our eyes and stick our hands into a big bowl of brains and eyeballs (cold spaghetti and meatballs). Back then, Halloween meant walking door to door, not riding in the backseat of Dad’s car, or trick-or-treating at Publix. And we never trick-or-treated with our parents. (Unless we wanted to be ridiculed by the entire student body at school the next day.) And when I say “we,” I mean myself and most of you, as I assume I have very few readers under the age of 20.
I remember taking my full-to-the-brim pillowcase home to Mom, dumping it on the living room floor, and heading back out again. I asked a friend’s daughter how well she did and she said she got “tons” of candy. That meant a third of one pillowcase. Nowadays, there’s lots of candy in the house in the days after Halloween, not because it was received, but because it was never given away. We had about a dozen trick-or-treaters in my neighborhood, more if you count all the parents.
In fact, now that I think about it, Halloween hasn’t been all that great since my childhood. I guess there were some fun costume parties in my twenties and thirties, but for the most part, the 70s were my heyday. And I guess that’s as it should be. Halloween is for kids. And not having any kids of my own … I suppose Frankie is the closest thing I have and he’s liable to bark at strangers, and can’t eat the chocolate anyway.
But now that I moved to Mom’s, the holiday’s looking up. For those of you that don’t know her, my mom’s really just a big kid at heart. She was so excited, we were outside by 4 o’clock. She had bought us ridiculous styrofoam wigs. I was willing. It was a super easy costume. Frankie had a jockey on his back, so I guess that made him a horse. He didn’t seem to notice his rider, so I guess he didn’t mind much either. We invited over a few of my friends, mostly hers.
As we passed out candy to a small number of trick-or-treaters, I was reminded of an important lesson. In a world that changes constantly, we have to live in the present to really get enjoyment from it all. It’s hard not to compare the present to Halloweens past, but by constantly lamenting, you’re liable to miss it. Everything changes. And everything can do so in a millisecond. Kids grow up fast. I don’t like to think about it and he’s still a young pup, but there are only a limited number of costumes in Frankie’s future. I heard somewhere that in hindsight, we were always happiest right before everything changed. Today is tomorrow’s fond memory. Don’t miss your happy.