Though practiced in many countries, I believe that Halloween and trick-or-treating is biggest in America. I know that I grew up loving the holiday, and had a lot of fun. Some of my best memories of childhood are wandering through the neighborhoods begging for candy with a simple "trick or treat!" One year my parents and a few other neighbors designed a haunted woods that wound through the suburban forest behind three houses. There were elaborate spooks, decorations, and even a miniature Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory with a brief skit (I was Igor!). All of it was safe, mildly frightening, and always fun. As I grew up I realized that I still enjoyed Halloween, with all of the spooky decorations and costumes. Now I get to pass it on to my own kids.
Nowadays are different, though. With child predators and other fears, there seems to be less focus on the trick-or-treating aspect. Fewer kids go through the neighborhoods anymore, and many go around to stores in the malls. When I was young you could barely drive a car down a street because of all of the wandering children. Now the streets are pretty bare and it's much less common to have your doorbell rung. It also seems like there are fewer houses handing out candy. In the past you could go from one house to another. Now it seems like less than half the homes in a neighborhood, and maybe as few as a third, actually welcome the kids. Honestly, it makes me a little sad. There is a certain innocence of childhood that is lost in the modern world. To me Halloween is more about candy and fun costumes than it is about any real frights. And despite what some people want to make it out to be, in modern times it simply isn't about anything evil.
But all is not lost. Tonight my wife and I watched our kids have a great time. Because we're usually involved with events at our church the kids haven't been actually trick-or-treating in over three years. This year our church events were in the afternoon, so the evening was free. Lucas and Elena were running from house to house, completely enthralled by the idea of being able to get free candy merely by rining a doorbell and saying a simple phrase. Hyped up on sugar and excitement, they were practicaly non-stop. That joy was contagious, making my wife and I smile and laugh at them. It was also so nice to see the people passing out candy. These were people who wanted the kids to come by, and they were all very nice and welcoming. There was happiness, not obligation from these adults. In today's society we see so many jaded, banal people that it was refreshing to see some of that simple, neighborly happiness, harkening back to a simpler time.
Oh, and the biggest surprise came from my daughter. This is my little, cute, six year-old princess, who is nicknamed "Ladybug" by me and "Angelfish" by my wife. This little girl is obsessed with Littlest Pet Shop toys and anything that is pink. Yesterday she suddenly announced that she wanted to do something new for her Halloween costume. My little, sweet girl stated that she wanted to be......a zombie cheerleader. We have no idea where this came from! But my wife bought simple white and black makeup and she got her wish. As she went through the houses, the kids came to one where a party was going on. The people thought she was adorable. My little zombie cheerleader came running back to us laughing with pleasure because one of the people said that he was going to save some brains for her. That's my little Ladybug....
Happy Halloween, everyone!