Back when I was a kid (we won't mention how long ago that was), Halloween was a time to don a costume, go door to door, and beg for candy from random strangers. Then we'd take our loot home so Mom could dig through our apples, candy bars, and boxes of raisins for the elusive razor blade always talked about but never found, like the great pumpkin that Linus waits for all night in the pumpkin patch.
While my kids still dress up to wander the neighborhood (well, actually, my youngest wanted nothing to do with his costume, so only the oldest went), Halloween is starting to feel different. Just wander into any Halloween superstore, and you'll find decorations galore, a large adult costume section, and a small selection of costumes for kids. Shouldn't the reverse be true? Shouldn't three-quarters of the store be made up of children's outfits?
And speaking of children, where were they on Halloween night? We managed a mere fifty candy beggars this year. While that's not terribly low, our numbers peaked at 150 a few years ago and have been dropping since. It seems like kids go to church events or school functions or parties, rather than roam the streets and ring doorbells. Which is probably a good idea considering the number of dark houses we encountered when I took my kid out. Maybe people were still celebrating the Giants win in SF that night, maybe they were at those aforementioned parties, but only about one in every three houses had their porch light on. After all the buildup, the holiday itself felt surprisingly quiet.
That's okay. My kid didn't mind. He's always excited whenever he gets to stay out past his bed time. We could have taken him to the dentist and he would have been thrilled. And he still got plenty of candy. It just took a little more legwork. Only last week, I threw out the remainder of last year's Halloween candy, so it's good to replenish the supplies.
Still, I hope this isn't a new trend toward a day when trick-or-treating will merely be a fond memory of the older generation, like Kodak cameras or drive-in theaters. If nothing else, it's a chance to say hi to your neighbors. Even if you have to wear a mask while doing it.