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Halloween Then And Now…

Grinning pumpkinSo much has changed from when I was a kid at Halloween.  And I’m not even that old!  But I am a dad and I’ve noticed some major differences in the holiday from when I was a kid to now.

First of all, there are now TIMES that you can trick or treat.  When I was a kid, we would start our trick or treating as soon as we got out of school (this is after filling our faces with the candy that they were handing out there all day) and didn’t end until people turned off their lights and hid behind their curtains.  Either that or they would start to hand out pennies which we all knew were good for nothing (even then) except to make your bag heavy.

Next, it’s the treats that are handed out.  Correct me if I’m wrong but the way I understood, trick or treating came about from “evil spirits” who would come to people’s houses and the only way the homeowner could get the evil spirit to leave was to give them “treats.”  If the “spirits” didn’t get any or they didn’t like the “treats” then the homeowner would get “tricks” that were unpleasant.  That’s what I believe trick or treating was all about.  I’ll have to double check with Dale to be sure.  Anyways, the treats that people hand out can be ridiculous.  Now don’t get me wrong, childhood obesity is a very serious and real problem.  One third of all the kids in the US can be classified as obese.  It’s a scary statistic.  But it doesn’t happen overnight.  And it certainly doesn’t happen only on Halloween!  What I’m saying is, offer up all the apples, toothbrushes, and spider rings that you want.  If a kid is overweight, it’s because of a bigger problem than getting too much candy on one night of the year.  Let’s get back to handing out the good stuff for heaven sakes.  And parents, if that’s going to be said, we need to teach our children how to be responsible when it comes to their diets.  Stop taking away teaching moments.

The costumes are completely different too.  And I’ve got to give some of the designers some real credit.  Some of the costumes are pretty incredible.  The costumes now look just like the characters that are being portrayed.  And if you spend the money, you can find a good fabric that actually keeps your kid at least a little warm.  When I was a kid, we had these plastic masks that had a single elastic band going around the back to hold them on.  There were two holes for the eyes and a slit for the mouth.  Don’t even plan on breathing out of your nose.  That wasn’t happening.  And if that elastic band broke or came apart from the staple that held it in on either side, then you’re trick or treating with just one hand. The other hand is now dedicated to holding up your mask.  You had to pray that it didn’t get real cold too because that plastic had a habit of cracking which makes for an uncomfortable 5 hours collecting candy when you had a real life cut down your face.   We’d spend all this time picking out costumes and/or clothes to go out in but we NEVER planned on a cold night in Buffalo in October.  Go figure!  So the day would come, we’d put on our costumes, and then over that we’d have to put on our snow suit and ski mask so we wouldn’t “catch pneumonia.”

I just wish the kids now actually knew what it meant to be frightened on Halloween.  By that I mean, they don’t dress up as scary beasts anymore.  The Draculas, Frankensteins, and werewolves have been replaced by Lady Gaga, something from the movie Twilight, or any of the Jersey Shore fools (which in retrospect are all just as scary…they’re just not meant to be)  Halloween used to be a time when it was ok to scare someone out of their skin.  Now it’s become a time to talk about the dangers that candy pose to our teeth and dress up as whatever your favorite TV character is.  Sure, candy is bad for your teeth and your wasteline.  But it’s only one night to go out and have fun.  Let’s get back to that.  I think America is in some desperate need of fun.

–Brett Alan

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