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Where Have All the Trick or Treaters Gone?

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by Harriet Gross

Something has happened to Halloween that I don’t like!

Too few kids come trick-or-treating at all these days, and if they do, adults are standing by, watching to make sure they’re safe.

Eons ago, when I was a child, nobody went out with us on Halloween.

We sallied forth alone, in the dark with our pillow cases, down one side of street and back up the other, returning home with many treats that our parents let us eat without examination – even home-made candy apples!  If we got sick, it was from overdosing on sweets, not from being poisoned.

I know there’s “safe” trick-or-treating in malls and other public places.  But that’s not the same as seeing your own territory’s houses lit to let you know that if you ring the bell, there will be a smile and a handout waiting.

Sometimes givers can be extra-creative.  A woman I know, living in an area where streets are named after King Arthur, once dressed up like a queen and “knighted” each bell-ringer with a toy sword, bestowing a title along with some candy.  What fun!

Once, long ago, I got a lesson from a trick-or-treater.

My husband was at work, but I wasn’t afraid to open the door of our small apartment when the bell rang (not like today’s fear on both sides of doors).  One ring brought a little girl, all alone with her little bag, who stepped inside, looked around, and announced: “Your floor is dirty!”  I was a newlywed who didn’t know much about housekeeping, but I sure learned in a hurry! And I’ve never forgotten!

I always felt sorry for the little ones in cold winter climates who had to trick-or-treat with snowsuits covering up their costumes.

When I lived in places like that, we adults would ask them in, give them some warm cocoa, and maybe they’d let us unzip their parkas so we could see who they were for the night.  But I felt even sorrier for the tall teens draped in sheets, aging “ghosts” trying hard to be kids again for one last Halloween.

At least I have all those memories when my doorbell doesn’t ring despite the “welcome” sign outside, and once again I’m forced to eat, all by myself, all the candy I buy with such hope every year.

Well – I guess, in its way, Halloween isn’t so bad after all!



One thought on “Where Have All the Trick or Treaters Gone?

  1. Harriet’s article brought back fond memories of my childhood trick-or-treating with my brother in Chicago…how cold it was, how excited we were, how carefree we raced from house to house, how yummy the treats… Sigh! I miss those days too, but I confess, most years my home receives lots of trick-or-treaters…under their parents’ watchful eyes.

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