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Reflections on Halloween

I posted this as a comment on Pharyngula earlier this month, and to be honest, it will probably be read by more people there even buried in the comments than it will here as its own entry, but I still wanted to include it here, and maybe expand on it a bit. I have written along similar lines before in Halloween Recap, which also has a few pictures of how we've decorated the house the past few years.

Jack O'LanternI've always liked Halloween. Part of the fun is the costumes. I've always made my own, and some have been pretty involved. One year I was a werewolf, where my parents put a prosthetic nose and ears on me, along with a bunch of extra facial hair (I didn't need a wig thanks to my unruly natural hair). Another year I made a dinosaur, starting with some boxes, plastic grocery bags, and cotton balls, till the final costume was over 6' tall. My daughter has had some pretty good costumes, too. My wife helped her out a lot when she was younger, one year sewing her a mummy costume that had her bandaged from head to foot.

Between the different places I've lived, I've gotten to experience Halloween different ways. In elementary and middle school, we lived out in the country. Not backwoods deep country, but rural enough that walking around my neighborhood wasn't much of an option. So, trick or treating those years consisted mostly of driving around with one of my friends to houses of people we knew and knocking on their doors. (The corllary is that we never got many trick or treaters at our house, so we had left over candy every year.) We always saved a certain house for last. There was an old couple that lived there, and they'd invite us in for hot spiced cider and cookies.

My freshman year of high school, we'd moved to a traditional suburban housing development (Lake Linganore for anyone familiar with Maryland). A girl and I were the only high school students on our street, so we were the chaperones, taking all the smaller kids around the rest of the development. That was the most candy I've ever gotten on Halloween.

The rest of high school and then college and immediately afterwards were understandably devoted more to parties than trick or treating. I do remember though, when they brought underprivileged kids trick or treating in the dorms.

The first few years taking my daughter trick or treating were here in the city of Wichita Falls. It's not a very urban city. Our neighborhood at the time was a lot of nice houses on small lots - pretty much like the setting in most Halloween movies I've seen.

When we moved to a different neighborhood with a reputation as one of the nicer neighborhoods in town, we were completely unprepared for our first Halloween there. We ran out of candy within half an hour, and when my wife ran out to get more, it took her over half an hour to get back in because of the traffic. We were prepared the following years. I weighed our candy once, and we gave out over 40 lbs. A neighbor who was strict about giving out 2 pieces of candy per kid gave out 1600 pieces, and he ran out about half an hour before us. So with the amount of kids going through, it makes it more worth getting into the spirit. For the past several years, we've done up the house pretty good, and I'll stand out there in a costume to scare the older kids. It's scary enough that a few younger kids refuse to even walk up our driveway.

So we're looking forward to Halloween again this year. My daughter already threw a party with one of her friends last weekend, and we're busy planning a party for this weekend. And of course, we're trying to come up with new props for our house for the big night.

And for the cynics, most of the kids do have decent costumes, with a large portion still being homemade. It is irritating, though, to see high school kids walking around without being dressed up at all, but still asking for candy. Damn punks get off my lawn.

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