Outside Looking In
Over the years, the fun has slowly been sucked out of Halloween like a deflated ball, leaving only a shell of its former self.
Homeowners used to revel in the "children's holiday" as much as the kid themselves. Today, most keep the lights off to repel the kids' desire for free treats.
Even the COVID-19 pandemic has taken away what little is left of the way Halloween used to be, forcing the cancellation or a scaled-down version of Trunk or Treat, Halloween parties, and even many adult-themed Haunted Houses this fall.
Halloween has been associated with candy, costumes and decoration for many years. Sadly, it now seems to slowly dissipating from existence.
Technically not an official holiday, Halloween is still treated like a holiday; much like Mother's Day or Father's Day.
This is a day set aside for the kids. Many of the kids are excited about getting free goodies just for ringing the doorbell of someone they might not even know and uttering "Trick or Treat".
Years ago, parents rarely roamed the streets with the kids during Trick or Treating, unless the kids were very little. Older brothers and sisters usually were told that they must let their younger siblings tag along with them and their friends.
When razor blades and needles were put in homemade treats and caramel apples by hoodlums, an unofficial rule was adopted that treats must be factory wrapped, eliminating anything homemade.
That fear of what could be inside a child's treat bag caused Halloween to dwindle in popularity. And with both parents working in households, a time factor of purchasing or making a costume, buying candy to pass out, or having the time to take your child out Trick-or-Treating also reduced the number of participants.
Halloween got its roots from the Celtic festival of Samhain, during which people would light bonfires on All Hallow's Eve as a way to ward off evil spirits before All Saint's Day on Nov. 1. Both Samhain and All Saint's Day eventually merged with All Souls' Day, a day designed by the Catholic church in 1000 AD to honor the dead each Nov. 2, when people dressed up as devils, angels, and saints.
These traditions made their way to America in the mid-1800s, and evolved into a spooky affair that became synonymous with treats, costumes and parties.
When I was a kid, we planned our costume weeks in advance of the Big Day. My mother would always sew an elaborate costume for my sister and me, such as Superman, Batman or a pirate for me; while my sister would be some of a cute animal.
My parents seemed to enjoy Halloween as much as the kids did. It wasn't until I got older that I understand why; they liked the candy as much as we did. No wonder my bucket always seemed emptier the next day.
My parents would give Trick or Treaters each a large homemade decorated pumpkin cookie, a caramel apple and a candy bar. The neighborhood kids soon got wise to the excessive treats passed out at our house. The kids would take the treats, run home to put last year's costume or mask on, and then return to our house for "seconds" or sometimes even "thirds".
My parents would also decorate the house and host Halloween parties for my friends.
As I got older and had children of my own, I tried to continue the tradition of decorating the house to the tilt. I used to have a complete cemetery outside the house with 15 tombstone and epitaphs that read: "Here lies the Mummy; He went from riches to rags" of "Here lies Frankenstein; he got a charge out of life", and many others. I had a black fence surrounding the cemetery that was lit in orange lights and a smoke machine.
As the years went by, fewer and fewer of our neighbors decorated or left their lights on, and the number of Trick or Treaters dwindled as a result. Treats passed out also got smaller and smaller.
One thing that kept Halloween popular in the 70s and 80s were the scary moves that would come out each year around Halloween to get people in the mood. The Exorcist, The Shining, Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween and Friday the 13th to name a few.
But few scary movies are made anymore because of how times have changed for the safety of children, which leads to kids rarely even seen dressed in scary costumes anymore. They are generally animals, Disney characters or an old man or lady.
Trunk-or-treating gained popularity 15 years ago with scores of communities posting open invitations on the Internet of local newspapers. Parents decorate the trunks or back ends of their vehicles in some theme and pass out candy to costumed children. By having the event held in the daytime with a lot of people around, it was designed to be a safer avenue for the kids.
Halloween might not be the same as it once was, but it's still holds a favorable memory for me.