Saturday evening, our only trick-or-treaters arrived early, before it was even dark. Little Biker Boy, Ponytail Girl, and Third Kid Wearing a Mask came to show me their costumes and talk excitedly about their plans for walking through the village and getting “tons and tons of candy.”
Because we’re on a deadend country road with houses spaced pretty far apart, I knew we wouldn’t get any other visitors so we decided to go to the theater to see Where the Wild Things Are. I admit that I felt a pang as our car crawled slowly through Traintrack Village, carefully skirting the groups of costumed children.
I can still remember how much fun Halloween was when I was a kid. We’d travel to Picnic Family’s neighborhood, and the six of us kids would form a crazy gang, dashing from house to house in the dark. Sometimes it would rain or even snow, but that just made the night more exciting. I never had any idea where we were – I’ve never had a good sense of directions – and I can remember the shivers of excitement as we’d duck past a dark wooded area or take a shortcut across a moonlit lawn. Sometimes the doors we knocked on were opened by smiling mothers, who looked reassuringly normal, but other times, we’d hear haunting music and shrieks of terror, and we’d all get ready to run like crazy at whatever scary apparition might appear.
My husband and I were reminiscing about childhood Halloweens as we pulled into the mall, which is where the movie theaters are. To our surprise, the foodcourt was filled with children, wearing costumes and clutching bags of candy. “It’s Halloween at the mall,” explained the guy at the ticket counter. “All the merchants give out candy. It’s a safe alternative.”
As I looked around the brightly lit mall, with its stores and fastfood places, I felt sorry for the kids who weren’t out in the October air, racing through piles of fallen leaves, screaming at the sight of dark figures on porches, admiring the flickering candlelight of jack-o-lanterns, or running crazily from house to house. All kids deserve some excitement and mystery.