The Kid With One F is now four, which means that she's entering the actual people phase of her life. That makes little things like going trick or treating a, well, treat because now she's more than just a prop I use to extort candy from strangers. She has her own costume ideas, knows how to interact with people, and can actually walk instead of being rolled along like a big dolly.
As much fun as I find the holiday and the ritual, though, this was also the year I started noticing things while out trick or treating that make me a little sad. The're just little changes in the grand scheme of things, really, but it's enough to add a little bitterness to the 3 Musketeers I steal from the girl-spawn's Cinderella magic carriage basket after she goes to bed.
5. Halloween Doesn't Seem to Be a Community Thing Anymore: Now, we live in an apartment complex and my proposal to management that we have a sign-up sheet where people in the complex could sign up for trick or treaters to come by was shot down on insurance concerns. Luckily, there's one of those little planned communities across the street and that's where we went.
There are plenty of people that embrace Halloween, either with elaborate yard displays or just an open door. We met lots of wonderful folks, but for every house that stood wide open and welcoming was at least two more that were clearly not. I can understand if Halloween is on a Saturday or something you'd see more people not at home (Though in my childhood someone was always supposed to stay home and hand out candy even if the rest were going out), but Halloween was on a Thursday this year. That means that most folks just turned off their lights and didn't bother. It's like no one feels any obligation to be a part of the community ideal anymore, only if they "feel" like it.
4. People Are Still Pretty Racist: One thing that doesn't change much is racism, apparently. It's good that we've decided as a society to mostly stop openly advocating the inferiority of other skin colors, but that just seems to drive the sentiments underground.
It's a pretty nice little community where we went. All the houses probably cost more than both homes I lived in growing up combined. We tailed behind another group of kids who were primarily black, and so as to not swarm houses I made my daughter hang back until after they were through with their own trick or treating. I was also scouting out what goodies they were handing out in the baskets of the kids that were walking away from the door. It wasn't a majority of people by far, but there were several times I noticed my fellow Caucasians giving distinctly less candy to the black kids than my own little blond-haired Spider-Girl.
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3. People Use Halloween to Push Agendas: By now I'm sure you heard about our friend Cheryl in North Dakota that decided that she would be the fat police of her street and hand out letters explaining to parents that their kids were too fat for candy and that it shamed the who city of Fargo how obese negligent parents were letting their little bundles of joy get. It was national news because it was, you know, freaking horrifying that someone would take on the role of size judge on the one night out of the year when kids are allowed to throw caution to the wind somewhat.
Cheryl is far from alone, however. I polled some friends with similar-aged children, and found that folks are still handing out Bible verses instead of candy in this day and age, though I didn't run across that myself this year. Just one more example of the ultra-religious that can't let a single moment pass without making reference to their chosen deity.
Look not everything has to be about Jesus, OK? When you take a dump, is it a dump for Jesus? No, it's just a dump, and we should let kids dress like Iron Man and trick or treat in peace. At least tape a Hershey bar to the damned thing. And for the love of God, please do not ask your kids to pass out Chick Tracts for you while they are trick or treating. Yes, that story is from Texas. Of course it's from Texas.
2. Walking is Apparently Optional Now: When I was a kid you went up the street you lived on on one side, then back down the other, and if you had the stamina and the room in your bag you maybe moved onto the next street. Pretty simple right? It required less exercise than a trip to the grocery store.
As we wandered the neighborhood trick or treating I noticed a new trend. One parent would get out and herd the kids, while the other would creep along in the family car slightly behind them. When they reached a long blank spot in the house lights they would pile into the car and move down the block.
In addition to this being lazy, I also found it really dangerous. Kids on Halloween are like ball lightning in their unpredictability. While you're creeping along keeping an eye on your brood, another may just suddenly dart out in front of your car. More kids are killed by car accidents on Halloween than any other cause.
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1. Please, No More Princesses: I saw nothing but princesses as far as girls were concerned on Halloween. Some of them were witches, but they were really princesses in a pointy hat. Some were fairies, but they were really just princesses with wings.
Look, I like Sophia the First and classic Disney just fine, but this worship of the decorative, sensitive noble has gotten out of hand. I'm glad that we're so dedicated to providing girls with fictional role models and leads, but that mega-media campaign is just so damned overwhelming. Hell, they even turned Izzy from Jake and the Neverland Pirates into a more conventional princess recently.
You know what Disney princess I'm going to show my daughter next? Princess Mononoke. She was raised by wolves and stabs Forest Gods that get in her way. That's heaps better than singing animals, and the costume is way easy too.