I have had two good and, as a child, a few so-so ones. The first good one occurred when at about eight or nine, my friends and I read about trick-or-treating and decided to try it – in Manhattan. In a city of apartment houses, one can hit a lot of homes in an evening going up and down corridors. Most of the people we confronted had never seen trick-or-treaters and said “Oh, how cute! I don’t have any real treats, but…”, dropping some coins or even bills in the bag. We came home with almost two hundred dollars, and that in the days when a buck was a fin. My parents took a lot of the shine off the evening when they saw me dump out the bag and confiscated most of the loot for my college fund, though. Of course we made our own costumes and went out on our own, not chaperoned by parents lurking in the background.
The other good one was a couple of years ago with a visiting Italian family who had never carved pumpkins. They loved it and we had a great time.
That’s it; I really despise Hallowe’en in its present form. I hate the mass paranoia that has made people so afraid of razor blades in apples (something that as far as I know has never actually happened) that they deny their kids any healthy treats and one winds up giving away endless piles of awful little candies in sealed wrapping. I hate the complete vacuity of a holiday that now celebrates (and respects) nothing, except maybe sleazy sex for a slice of the young adult crowd and senseless, unsatisfying purchasing of junk at the drugstore seasonal aisle. I hate the kitschy and ugly commercial decorations, and I hate the Great Pumpkin, a completely nonsensical ersatz myth from a three-joke, two-emotion, weakly drawn comic strip. I hate the degree to which adults have taken over and programmed the kids’ experience of it, assuring that whatever it entails, it doesn’t include anything the slightest bit scary, and I really hate this.
Go play the Mephisto Waltz, or A Night on Bald Mountain, or the Symphonie Fantastique, and boycott this tepid, pallid, cheesy, forced orgy of plastic pumpkins and icky sweets. No-one else is actually having any fun either; you won’t miss a thing. Kids want to do Hallowe’en? Give them a room to make a haunted house in and leave them alone to enjoy their own imaginations.