anne_mikolay_120Can you believe it? It seems like the school year just began, but the spooky season of ghosts and goblins has already come and gone.

Halloween is my least favorite “holiday.” I'm one of those rare individuals who just doesn't “get it.” If you're not an adorably costumed, little child, what's the point? Why is begging strangers for candy fun? What's enjoyable about recreating yourself as a zombie and joining hundreds of other like-minded ghouls at Asbury Park's annual Zombie Walk? Why do teenagers grab empty pillowcases and tour the neighborhood along with the tiny tots? At what age does trick-or-treating become passe?

Halloween is very different these days than it was when I was a kid. People no longer hang cardboard witches in their windows or display plastic, lighted pumpkins (except for me, of course. Dragging my mother's old, plastic pumpkin out of the closet is my traditional homage to days long gone). Nowadays, craft and home supply stores feature autumn scarecrows for everybody's budget, and who can resist a grouping of colorful mums? For safety reasons, people don't hand out little bags of loose candy anymore, so there's less candy corn dropping all over the place. Kids hunt for costumes in party stores rather than thrift stores, so there's less plastic masks and more creativity.

There was great variety in this year's costumes. One boy knocked on my door dressed as a Mexican bandito, complete with sombrero, mustache, and colorful poncho. Despite portraying a politically incorrect stereotype, the kid was very much in character, and quickly responded “gracias” when I handed him his peanut butter cups. A teenage girl clad in a maid's outfit eloquently addressed me in French; she could have been declaring my candy rotten, for all I knew, but it sounded beautiful! A frighteningly perfect Freddy Kruger walked up to my house, along with lots of teenagers who simply threw on their soccer or cheer-leading uniforms. A few get-ups were confusing, such as the teenager wearing jeans, a sweatshirt, and an upside-down Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket on his head (I've been told there's a meaning to the bucket, but I don't want to know). The very best costume belonged to a Middletown High School North senior who recreated himself as Link from Nintendo's infamous Zelda game. That costume, complete with shield, probably set the kid (or his parents) back a pretty penny.

All in all, this year's trick-or-treaters were well behaved, polite, and interesting. There were no eggs thrown, no toilet paper tossed around, no pumpkins smashed. After dispensing eight bags of candy, my supply ran out (okay, I would have had more if I hadn't eaten my way through a bag of Nestles, but my seasonal chocolate addiction is tradition in my home, too).

Though the attraction of trick-or-treating is questionable to me, Halloween is an annual tradition, a way to mark the passage of time. Let's flip the calendar page and move forward. Shall we? Over the river and through the wood, to grandmother's house we go!