You see, I'm not a big fan of Halloween. It's a holiday I think we could do without. And it isn't really a season like the Christmas season, it's just a day. So it would be easy to dispose of.
As a child, Halloween was sort of a mixed bag. I could never quite get the right costume and usually ended up going as a hobo, wearing old worn out clothes and putting charcoal on my face. None of us 8 Kingkade kids ever got those cool, trendy masks or costumes.
I also heard that some kids got "jumped by some hoods" and had their candy stolen or that someone found a needle or a razor blade in their candy. Maybe this was just urban legend but it made me leery of a holiday where those kinds of things occurred. You never heard of people putting something in someone's fruit cake, did you?
And then there was Halloween in small-town Iowa. As a first year teacher, I was warned by the locals that if I left my car outside in the driveway on Halloween, it would get vandalized. It seems that in small towns, Halloween was a license for destroying or stealing anything that wasn't locked up or tied down. "Har, had, har, why back a few years ago, them kids took a goat and put it up on top of the elementary school, har, har, har." Main Street was blocked with a pile of park benches, signs, trash cans, and anything else you could get your hands on the next morning. A parent of a student offered up their spare garage for my car, but other teachers weren't as fortunate.
Not raising children may have also contributed to my Hallo-Scrooge-ism. There was a pretty big gap in the time when I last trick-or-treated to when I started to participate again. Like about 45 years. Last Saturday, we tagged along with our grandkids and their parents to a Halloween event at a wonderful children's farm in Kansas City. The girls are 4 and 19 months old and boy were they cute all dressed up in their costumes. My hardened pumpkin heart started to soften a bit.
Then today at work, some of the children from our new residential treatment center came around dressed in their costumes to trick-or-treat in my part of the building. These are children who have not had a great life yet. They are here because life has dealt them a heavy hand, but there is hope they will get better because our people here do great work.
As I was reaching into my stash of Kit-Kats, Mounds Bars and other goodies, I met a princess, Green Lantern, a Goth Witch, Batman, a soldier and a Geisha. They all told me who they were, thanked me for the treats and then down the hall they went. I was smiling.
What's the lesson here, Dan, I ask myself. Maybe Halloween isn't so bad after all. Maybe you could change your mind about it. Maybe, just maybe, you could come to embrace it.
Let's not get carried away. I need a little time to think about this. Although I have to admit, I've had a couple of really good Hallo-moments this year so maybe there is hope for me yet.