The Lost Days of Halloween

Madeline the cat holding her own cat and waiting for Trick or Treaters in the garage.

Oz and his buddy: Superheroes.

My grandkids are 13 and 7 and both are still into Halloween, though Maddie is reaching the age of uncertainty. She loves to dress up, but is not so enthusiastic about saying, “Trick or treat.” She’d rather be thought of as the adult accompanying her little brother.

It’s a tough age and I saw some of it at my house last night, where a couple of teen-aged girls–one who was probably Maddie’s age, but could easily have passed for 20–were uncertainly asking for candy, but also accompanying little ones.

I am one of those old farts who really misses Halloween of some years ago, the one where kids made their own costumes, paraded from 5:30 to 8 p.m.–mostly in the dark–to houses with lights on and asked for candy and cookies, much of it homemade by older homemakers who delighted in the children.

The two faces of the cat.

But this is a different country in so many ways today and it’s not always a better country. Halloween used to be the very exemplification of “neighborhood.” Kids didn’t pile into vans and roam from neighborhood to neighborhood where nobody knew them. They stayed close to home and were certain of a welcome at every house with a porch light on. Some of the families welcomed the children with elaborate decorations both inside and out and if Mrs. Wilson had some of her famous brownies ready to give out, you could be certain they would contain neither razor blades, nor marijuana.

I miss that. A lot.

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