Friday, October 31, 2014

Rant #1,314: Halloween's Here


Halloween is here today, on a Friday yet. Retailers must be loving this, communities that get overrun by kids looking for trouble are probably hating it.

My perception of Halloween has changed over the years.

As a kid, I loved the holiday, like just about every kid does.

You get lots of candy from your neighbors, and sometimes you get coins.

That is what happened to me as a kid.

I gave all the candy to my sister and mother, kept the coins, and I was happy as a lark (not my costume, I probably went as Batman or Superman as a kid, and one year I know I went as a baseball player, complete with bat and uniform).

I lived in a place with 20 buildings, thousands of apartments, and my friends, my sister and I would traipse up and down our building--and several other buildings--trick or treating, and you never saw so much candy in your life.

We only had two troubling incidents that I can recall. One, toward the end of my trick or treating years (probably 1969 or so), kids were jumping other kids for their treats. I remember somebody I knew got mugged right in the stairway in my building.

The other was that one time, my sister got an apple from a neighbor of ours, and it had more pins in it than you can find at a beauty parlor.

My mother would inspect everything we brought in from Halloween, and really, she shook her head in amazement at this killer apple.

And yes, we knew who gave it to my sister--an old, crotchety woman in our building--but in those days, you just let it pass, and you were happy that the apple was found out. Today, that woman, no matter what her age, would probably be arrested.

And these two incidents happened later in my Halloween trick or treating years, and it leads me to make some comments about today's Halloween.

Way back when I was a trick or treater, Halloween was a fun holiday. There was very little commercial about it, but we did buy costumes and candy for the occasion.

However, in the past 40-plus years, the holiday, in my opinion, has gotten totally out of hand.

This is a kids' holiday, but it has been co-opted by adults.

The entire holiday reeks of commercialism today, with seemingly everyone from McDonald's to the car companies getting into the act.

Adults have Halloween parties, and both men and women do their best to look their worst during this holiday.

Heck, there is even a sexy Ebola nurse costume out now, believe it or not.

And with these parties come a lot of problems, such as too much drinking and just overall bad behavior. Sure, not every party goes these routes, but you can just bet your local police department is looking forward to this holiday as much as they are looking forward to ... well, since it was brought up a little earlier, the coming of Ebola.

Halloween used to be such an innocent occasion, and even though I didn't eat a piece of candy that I got, I really enjoyed the fun of going door to door asking, "Trick or Treat?"

Today, it appears to be more "Trick" than "Treat."

In my community, hardly anyone comes to our door, even though we have holiday decorations up around the house.

Nowadays, you only go to houses of people you know, and parents take their kids around not to every house, but to only the ones where they know the occupants.

How sad that is, that a holiday of pure joy has morphed into one of pure fear.

I know it isn't like that in every community, but let me tell you, I got a real wakeup call a few years back that the holiday had changed from when I was a kid to what was then the present time.

I was driving on major highway on Long Island, and people--mainly kids--were throwing firecrackers at passing cars.

No, this was not my Halloween anymore.

The mischief should be fun, but in the current case, who has more fun during the holiday, the kids or the adults?

If you answered "the adults," you have just reasoned out why Halloween has changed for the worse.

Boy, I am so happy that I grew up when Halloween was something to look forward to, not an occasion to dread.

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