October 27th, 2016

Reiss’s Pieces

By Judy Reiss
It is such a beautiful day today that it automatically brings to mind Halloween! Not the Halloween that the children celebrate today, but the Halloween of old folks like me! Now I know that many of you have no idea what I am talking about, so I need to take a few minutes and explain.

I guess that it will be easier to tell you about the Halloween that I remember and then compare it with the Halloween of 2015. And I don’t think that there is much to compare. What do you think?

I loved Halloween when I was young and anxiously awaited the big day. Although we didn’t have many choices for costumes or masks, we all dressed up and then went out trick or treating in large groups. But first let me tell you about our costumes. I can still remember the smell of my mask. Each and every mask was made of gauze type material, which was then covered with some type of wax. And the wax kept the mask into shape for a while until your warm breath caused it to slowly dissolve and you were left with damp and floppy material, especially around your mouth and your nose! But nobody really cared. And as far as I can remember, it was just a mask and didn’t really look like anything or anybody.

And most of us had costumes that either we put together or our mothers did, depending on how clever they were. I think that I always got to wear a sheet! And we went trick or treating from the minute it began to get dark until it was about 8 or 9 o’clock. Each and every one of us carried a big brown paper bag and kept dragging it along until it was so filled we had to consider going home. Oh, and most importantly, no parents went with us. Even though we began to go out alone we were about 5, we went with friends and no grown-ups came with us. When we finally got tired and went home, we then took our huge bag of treats and checked out what we had gotten, threw away the graham cracks, put the apples in a bowl in the kitchen and gorged on as much candy as possible. No one told us to eat only one candy bar a day back then. Nope, we could eat all we wanted and even if your stomach ached, we loved every minute. Of course, we had to throw our masks away because after a night of breathing with it on, it had turned into a pile of damp, waxy pulp. That was yesterday, a time for children to pretend they were someone or something else, celebrate without parents and eat as many treats as you could hold.

Today Halloween couldn’t be more different. No one wears a costume that their mother made…God forbid. And the masks are made of all sorts of materials that look exactly like whatever creature you want. And the cost is no longer a nickel, a nickel couldn’t even buy you the elastic that held our gauze masks on! But children are just as excited today about Halloween as they ever were. The difference first and foremost, is instead of a sheet, the children buy their costumes in a store or online and many cost a lot more than my first car! I don’t believe any child is allowed to go trick or treating with a group of friends anymore unless a group of parents go, too. Most children no longer go throughout their neighborhood begging for a treat. Now they are taken by their parents to a party that is put on and arranged by a group of parents. And the parties are organized so that no decoration or theme is too scary! And if any time is set aside for trick or treating, the candy and treats that are obtained by the children are combed very carefully by the parents so that no “bad” treat has been slipped into their bag. And, of course, candy and sugary treats are to be doled out carefully over a number of days so that no one get sick. And lots of the treats “disappear” to prevent any and all upsets.

The parents being such an integral part of Halloween is probably one of the primary differences from when I was young. Back then, parents were parents and kids were kids unlike now when kids and adults have become homogenized and the only difference between the two groups is their age. Oh, and before I forget, scary and frightening is no longer allowed. I know several terrific Halloween parties that were disbanded because some parents complained their children got scared! And I thought then, “who cares?” and I think now, “if they get scared keep them home.”

I know that I am showing my age but I do think that Halloween used to be fun and scary was part of the celebration. Now it seems that it isn’t and it makes me wonder how many children whose parents are so vocal about making Halloween “blah” let their children watch T.V. Now that is really scary!

Oh well. Haloween is coming and although it isn’t as much fun as it used to be, it is fun for the little ghosts and goblins that are taken around by their parents. Give them a treat and if they are over the age of 13, forget it. Trick or Treating is for the little guys. And if you have the teenagers come, a pencil, a pen or even a small notepad might be a very good treat! Most of them have never seen such a gift and maybe you are opening a whole new world for them.

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