A dear friend pulled me aside this week and said, "Write something about how Halloween has changed since we were kids." She pointed out some unwanted changes in the annual holiday routine, and I immediately knew I had heard it before.
She was not the first to mention the growing incivility that has come to mark the holiday tradition. The societal rudeness is all too prevalent as "kids" make their rounds for holiday candy.
I don't know about your community, but here are some changes in mine:
Large groups of "kids" head to the "better" neighborhoods in search of special treats. That's not necessarily new, because I recall migrating toward those same neighborhoods way back when. But believe me, that's where the comparison ends.
I know there is no protocol or etiquette that specifically applies to trick-or-treating. But as a general rule, if you're smoking a cigarette when you come to my door, chances are you need to leave the trick-or-treating to the young ones.
And simply wearing what you wore to school that day and pretending to be dressed as "a gangsta" also doesn't work for me. I'm not comfortable handing out Snickers in one hand and holding a gun in the other. It kinda ruins the holiday spirit, if you know what I mean.
Along that same line, a ball cap turned backward is not a Halloween costume. A hoodie over your head also falls short of a costume. It gives me the distinct impression you are eyeing my home for later activities.
The proper greeting would be "Trick or treat," not "Give me some candy" as I have heard more than once in recent years. If you think I'm kidding, just ask around.
Though it may not be part of your normal vocabulary, you might try a "Thank you" when handed a treat. I know you probably were not taught this simple rule at home, but try it on Halloween for a change.
And when I hold out that Halloween candy bowl, take one -- you rude little thug -- and not a handful.
Parents who accompany their kids are a welcome sight. But when Momma is holding her 9-month-old child who has a Halloween bag, chances are the mom and not the kid will be eating that candy. If not, she's got a bigger problem than Halloween treats.
Sadly, I could go on and on about the unwanted changes surrounding Halloween. Maybe these changes don't apply to your town or your neighborhood. But in my little world, many things have changed.
Halloween is about mischief perhaps but not about criminal activity. It's about going door t door in search of special treats and not stocking the pantry for the next two months. It's about funny or scary costumes and kids' laughter. It's not about packs of teenage thugs who often spoil the fun for others.