So I live in a big building with narrow walkways and usually on Halloween the trick-or-treaters go right by. There are big houses full of candy around the corner, after all. And usually Mr. A and I are on the road during trick-or-treating, but last year we happened to be home and saw all the costumes from our windows, and felt wistful that we missed out on the fun of seeing neighbors and passing out treats.
We had more kids at our door than we ever had in Oak Park! This time the majority of families were coming from Maywood. We ran out of candy in the first hour and I had to send Andrew to the store to scrounge up anything he could so we could continue to give out treats! In conversations we had at a neighborhood party following trick-or-treating, we were given some advice: buy a small amount of “good candy” to give out to the “neighborhood kids” and then buy tons of “cheap candy” to give out to the rest.
I have been quietly watching what happens on the streets of River Forest as I take my kids around on Halloween night and here is what I have found. Some houses give out full-size chocolate bars, gift certificates and soda pop, but only to the “neighborhood kids”. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this practice. On one hand I realize that , for the kids they know, they want to do something special. On the other hand, I think that the only way for most people to distinguish “neighborhood kids” from the kids coming from Maywood is by the color of their skin.
I get that the economy sucks and that not everyone can afford to buy candy for half the city. I’m not shaming anybody for deciding to opt out, close the door and stay inside. But what in God’s name kind of twisted satisfaction does anybody get out of counting out who deserves what candy at the door on Halloween? Every year this happens here too, even though my ‘hood is far from wealthy. Some knob whines to the local paper about “those kids” coming into “our” neighborhood and getting candy. Because those Milk Duds were rightfully mine! You’re actually going to make a federal case out of a popcorn ball? I mean, okay, but … really?
Even if this is true, and even if this gets your back up, there is no real solution. What exactly should be done here? Checking parents’ driver’s licenses for an address in proximity before giving the kid a Twix? Maybe some Republican legislator can pass a law that says you can only trick-or-treat two blocks from your house. Possibly if you are enough of an asshole all those kids will go away! After all, when I was a kid blah blah blah just go watch some TV, would you? Just go watch TV or take a nap or play Scrabble or something. I can’t fathom getting that amped about the candy, and I’ve been eating malted milk balls for breakfast.
Last year I saw some girls up the street with a fantastic idea. They put a card table in front of their apartment building, hung up a sign that said “welcome trick-or-treaters” and handed out sweets all afternoon. So this year Mr. A and I bought four bags of candy (we even had three left by Halloween!) and dragged down the lawn chairs and gave candy to Batmen and a doctor and some teenagers in cat outfits and three ninja daughters with their ninja mom and Smurfette and lots of pirates. Why should we miss out on the fun just because we don’t have a porch or a niblet of our own to take around?
We ran out of candy with about 45 minutes left, disappointing a wee ninja turtle whose witch-hatted sister got the last mini Hershey bar. I apologized to him, and he solemnly told me, “That’s okay. I can share.”