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anne mikolay 2012 120Congratulations to me! I survived another Halloween, quite successfully in fact! Nobody swiped the pumpkins off my porch (didn't put any out!), and nobody egged my car (parked it in the garage). Despite running out of candy after a few hours, one trick-or-treater deemed my house “the best on the block” due to the full-size candy bars in my plastic cauldron and the two cute chihuahuas at my side. While charmed by the compliment, there were other Halloween occurrences that gave me pause.

When I was a kid, Halloween had a certain order to it. We knocked on neighbors' doors, cheerfully said “trick-or-treat!” and watched expectantly as our benefactors dropped candy into our bags. We said “thank you” and ran to the next house while our parents followed. What happened to the “script”? Only a handful of children said “trick-or-treat” when I opened my door; most simply stood there with pumpkin-shaped buckets or pillowcases in hand. Even fewer said “thank you”. Call me old-fashioned, but shouldn't “please” and “thank you” (and the sentiments therein) be some of the first words taught to little ones?

Back in my day, (yes, way, way back!), “safety first” was the primary rule on Halloween, as it should be now. I was surprised by the number of small youngsters that came to my door unattended. One miniature Captain America, who could not have been more than four years of age, stood alone on my doorstep, too afraid of my yappy chihuahuas to knock. I came out to greet the tiny super hero. Like those before him, the child said nothing and was too shy to even extend his little pillowcase. I opened it for him, gave him his candy, said goodbye and went back inside the house, only to return a few minutes later to find the same little boy still on my porch. When I approached to ask him what he was doing, he took off – alone – down the street.

While Captain America was timid, a little Disney princess was far from it. I was in the kitchen when she and her little pals knocked. I guess I didn't respond quite fast enough; the bold princess opened my screen door to come inside! Like mini-captain America, this band of frilly princesses, obviously too young to understand safety, were sans parents. 

It gets harder and harder each year to find originality among the countless off-the-rack princesses, vampires, monsters, and zombies that rattle their chains to my door. No doubt, in this age of instant gratification, parents no longer have time or the inclination to create costumes; however, when I hand out candy, I search for a stand-out costume, one that satisfies my imagination and revives my hope in the existence of ingenuity and old-fashioned fun. This Halloween, I spotted not just one, but three such fledgling individualists. Of course, I am so far removed from current trends that my son had to tell me the trio at my door with their heads concealed in colorful boxes were dressed as characters from Mine Craft, the popular video game. I told the kids they had the best costume; you wouldn't expect kids to care what just-another-lady-giving-out-candy said, but one of them was so pleased with my comment he proceeded to tell me how the costume was made. I had no idea what he was saying; his head was in a box!

After the steady parade at my door (which shockingly included an adult Ninja Turtle trick-or-treater), I had no candy left (excluding the Milky Way I saved for myself) and, satisfied, closed my door on Halloween, 2013.

Onward now to the turkey and the cranberry sauce!