This October, after some deliberation, my daughter decided that her trick-or-treating days were behind her. She’d had a good long run: fourteen Halloweens of neighborhood candy collecting. Last year a mother answering the door at one home had uttered that dreaded criticism: Aren’t you girls a little old for this? My daughter seethed inwardly at these words.
It bugged me, too, I have to admit. I’m quite happy, one night a year, to hand out treats to polite, costumed children and teenagers of all ages, shapes and sizes. Who outgrows a love of candy, anyway? It certainly doesn’t happen in my family. My eighty-something father begins buying Halloween goodies as soon as they appear in stores, usually around July 5th. He and Mama see it as their duty to make sure the Butterfingers, Snickers and Milky Ways are up to par for the kiddies. By the time Halloween rolls around, they are quality-control experts.
Nevertheless, there comes a time when the annual house-to-house trek becomes more of a slog than an adventure. As with most pleasures that we outgrow, one day we wake up and know in our bones: the payoff is no longer worth the trouble. Facing the truth can be painful, but not facing it tends to be more so.
Trick-or-treating, then, was out. But my daughter has not outgrown her love of Halloween. And this year, for the first time in recent history, the holiday would fall on a Friday. Better yet, that Friday was an early-dismissal day that marked the end of the quarter and the start of a four-day weekend. She refused to settle for staying home and answering the door. She determined to celebrate Halloween, and properly. Without trick-or-treating, but with friends, costumes, and, of course, candy.
For additional thoughts on Halloween and trick-or-treating age limits, see On Improving Halloween, from November 2011.