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I miss Halloween.  My Halloween memories are happy ones, not scary. I hate horror movies, but I always loved Halloween.  I trick-or-treated as a kid, but it was a different world in the 1960’s. We knew most everyone in the neighborhood, and it was a safe place on my parents’ street.  There was an elderly couple at the end of the street who used to invite all the kids inside their house.  She had apples and homemade cookies laid out for the kids.  Back then, we could eat homemade goodies that people handed out.

There was an elderly lady a few doors from my parents’ house that used to give us full-size Hershey bars.  I trick-or-treated the entire street and sometimes did a few houses on the street a block over.  I always did my parents’ house last.  My Dad would answer the door (he gave out the candy since my Mom was out with me).  Dad would always pretend he didn’t know who I was.  He’d give me candy, exclaim over my costume, and try to guess who I was. I’d giggle and laugh.

When my boys were little, I always went door-to-door with them.  Hubby stayed home to hand out candy.  It was a lot of fun when the kids were small.  The man next door always had a special treat bag for the boys.  When he recognized them, he’d say, “just a minute” and he’d go back in and get them a whole bag full of candy.  I liked going out with the boys. It didn’t matter if it was cold or if it was raining.  It was always a fun time.

I used to dress up with my boys when they were small.  One year when son #2 was a baby, I was a cat. That was the year son #1 was a ghost and son #2 was a pumpkin.  We dressed up as a group for work one year.  The women in my group dressed as witches (I even painted my face green), and the HR Director (a man) was the devil complete with tights and small red shorts.  We did a costume parade through the building.  That was fun. They also used to have a haunted house where I worked.  They would bring busloads of kids through it, and it was even on the local news.  I participated in the haunted house one year.  I played a dead person in one of the displays and got to scare a few people when I moved at the last minute.

As the years went by, Halloween changed.  There were fewer little kids on our street, and we’d have groups of kids from the inner city come through.  They’d come by the carload, and then the car would follow them down the street.  The kids were scary, and the car was a hazard to the little ones who were out.  Giving out candy got to be scary, too.  There’s something disturbing about answering the door to a hulking teenager on your doorstep without a costume and holding out their hand for a piece of candy.  It’s not so cute giving candy to someone demanding it who is bigger than you are.

I used to love decorating.  One year I had spider webs on all the bushes, and we played scary music. I think that was the year Hubby accidentally opened the window to put a plastic lighted pumpkin on the sill, not realizing the screen wasn’t down.  The cat got out.  We came home from trick-or-treating, and someone said, “That cat looks like Raymond!”  It was Raymond – in the front yard where he wasn’t supposed to be.  When I think of all the awful things that could have happened to a very sweet cat, I still get upset.

Somewhere along the way, we stopped participating. We stopped when Hubby went on the road which was around the same time the boys got too old for it.  It no longer felt safe to answer the door.  Since we stopped participating, we hide.  One year, we went to the movies.  This year we’ll shut the lights off, the boys will watch TV in the dark, and I’ll probably sit in the back room and blog or read.

If we still had a safe neighborhood full of small children, I could be the older lady handing out Hershey bars.  Since we have trick or treaters who don’t live here on a daily basis and don’t respect people’s property, we’ll hide instead.  I’ll let someone else be the nice lady with the full-sized candy.