Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Reflections on Our First Trick or Treat Experience

Took the short people trick or treating for the first time last night. It has effects you never imagine. We are trying our level best to endow them with a strong environmental ethic, but after last night, I think they are now strongly in favor of the development of suburban sprawl -- we want more houses and pack them tighter together, please.

We don't let our kids have candy with the exception of the occasional fair trade, organic, non-dairy, dark chocolate covered blueberry (at least they get the anti-oxidants), so it has never been a ritual we felt a need to rush into. Yes, sending children out to collect candy in attractive, brightly colored wrappers that they can't eat is a bit like sending a eunuch to a brothel, but having heard about it from school chums and cousins, we decided to take the plunge.

It really is an odd thing.

I was expecting the shabbily costumed teens just trolling for candy, and there were plenty. New idea of the day -- take a page from the amusement parks and sell a yard sign with a ghost and a yardstick saying, "You can only be this tall to get candy."

One thing I wasn't expecting was the number of parents walking their kids through the neighborhood with beer in hand. Is this a Frederick County thing or has this become standard operating procedure elsewhere? "Hey, if we can rot their teeth tonight, why leave our livers out of the celebration?"

The other thing that struck me interesting is the power of corporate nostalgia. Looking through their loot, there are candies I haven't seen in twenty years and it is stunning how powerfully just looking at the wrappers brought back the old impulses in terms of "oooh" and "yuck." No doubt my tastes have changed and those that appealed to me as a child will taste much different now, but that initial pavlovian response is amazingly deeply ingrained.

But now Halloween is gone, and the day after Halloween can only mean one thing...we're already ankle deep in the holiday shopping season. I was in a store yesterday when a woman with her four children came in behind us and she remarked to them that she was so glad to see "Merry Christmas" signs going up because last year all they said were "Happy Holidays" and that "we prefer Merry Christmas." As if there wasn't already reason enough to hate this time of year. Harrumph.