Halloween: Where Did The Magic Go?

Halloween: Where Did The Magic Go?

Posted by on Oct 11, 2012 in Story Time, Writing | 10 comments

When I was a kid, Halloween was one the greatest times of the year. My favorite part of Halloween, or any holiday for that matter, was one of the houses a few streets down from my home. For the sake of this story, we’ll call this house, Sam.

I didn’t know the owner of Sam, but I knew he was crafty, and not in the sneaky kind of way. Sam’s owner used to hand-build all kinds of custom decorations and on Halloween his front lawn became a house of horrors.

Remarkably detailed vampires would jump out of full-size coffins as you walked past. Dead, motionless hands that lay upon the moist grass would come to life, reaching for your ankles. And every year things were different; new decorations with more detail than ever would appear, and you’d never know what to expect. Being a house, I imagine Sam was very happy with the way he was dressed for each and every holiday.

Halloween was a big deal when I was little. The streets were packed with children until nine or ten o’clock at night. We all loved to go see Sam, curious about what might be in store for us each year. But as we got older, and the displays became more elaborate, something terrible happened. The kids that had grown up, terrified and excited to go see Sam, were no longer interested in treats, they were more entertained by tricks. Unfortunately for Sam and the next, younger generation, those tricks were not of the friendly variety.

Vandalism and outright destruction plagued Sam’s yards, for reasons I don’t know. I cannot imagine the amount of time and effort Sam’s owners spent on their extravagant displays, but I can imagine how distraught they might have been to see what someone else – who once loved and adored that hard work – had done to it.

The next year the decorations were slightly less, and as the terrors of all hallows eve reigned destruction over them once again, Sam lost his desire to be dressed in festive intricacies. I was too old for trick or treating at this point, but I always made a point to stop by to say hi to Sam. I was sad to see the next year that Sam looked the same as he did every other day. No growling zombies, no floating ghosts, not even a decal to decorate his windows. The magic of Sam had been destroyed and future generations would miss out on his magic.

As more years passed and I started to hand out candy at my own home, I’ve found myself buying less and less each year. The doorbell stops ringing by eight o’clock and the streets are sporadic with goblins. Many parents take their kids to the mall where they hold a candy-grabbing event for the ghosts and ghouls of the night in an attempt to keep them warm and safe. After all, this is Canada and sometimes the weather demands a snow-suit under your costume. But as my candy bowl sits untouched time and time again, I find myself wondering where the magic went. Did it die with Sam? Are we awaiting another generation of baby boomers to fill the void of tricks and treats? Or has the world changed so much that parents would rather their child experience Halloween going store to store in a safe environment like the mall?

In a few weeks I’ll be getting my daughters dressed up in their costume and we’ll hit the streets. It’s snowing here already so surely it won’t be warm, but we’ll dress for the weather, and begin ringing doorbell after doorbell, filling their bag with treats. Just like I once did. Every year we go, I remain hopeful that I’ll see a new army of ghouls running from door to door with her, hoping that the magic of Halloween has not been lost, but temporarily dormant. What does this year hold? We’ll have to wait and see.

But if you’re an adult, and you have kids, remember to share the joy and magic of Halloween with them. It’s a once-a-year experience every child should look forward to experience. I only hope that should a new Sam appear, and help reignite the spark that comes with all hallows eve, that the younger generations will learn to love it now, and respect it later.


  1. That’s sad. In my small hometown there was always one house that went above and beyond for the holidays. Wonder if they’re still doing it.

  2. My daughter dressed up every year in some elaborate costume. She LOVED Halloween. She died last year on Oct. 29th so she missed it by just a few days. My son goes out religiously and we even got a costume for the dog who will accompany him this year 🙂 I love Halloween. It’s a time when the veil is thin between the two worlds and we can pretend to be anything. Magic is rampant in streets and hopefully in our hearts.

    • Oh my, Jessica, that is heartbreaking. I have thought about getting my dogs costumes, but I have yet to do it. I bet your puppy is so cute.

      The veil is definitely thinned, and I do like to wonder what could spill over from the other side!

    • Definitely dress up your dog 🙂 Ours is a daschund/chihuahua cross (a chiweiner) and we got her a little jesters collar because she hates wearing outfits.

  3. I remember as a kid I would walk around town with my group of friends until at least 9 at night. Now by 8pm I barely see any kids out. I only get a handful of kids at my house for Halloween. It’s my favorite holiday and it’s sad that its not as exciting as I remember it being as a kid and teenager. Last year Halloween was actually canceled due to a huge freak snow storm that left some people without power for weeks. I am bringing my daughter out this year, and I hope she will love it as much as I did.

  4. I have to say here in Ireland Halloween was never a big deal. We used to trick or treat but it was very rare you would see any decorations at all. I have 4 boys and while I get them dressed for the school disco thats all they have. The disco isnt even decorated!! I put up a few decorations myself at home but I live in the country and never get anyone calling.

  5. As a kid I always loved Halloween. And now that I have kids I find that it just isn’t what it used to be. People don’t seem to be as interested in the holiday, the thrills, the screams and fun! I know kids never go trick or treating in my neighborhood. It is sad really. Now I throw a party every year before Halloween to help get the kids in the Halloween spirit!

  6. In Australia Halloween is becoming more of a big deal in the cities, but not the country towns. It wasn’t until I lived in Canada for a couple of years (5 years ago) that I experienced my first Halloween.

    It was SOOOO much fun dressing my little kids up in their costumes and walking around the subdivision where my son’s nursery school was, trick or treating with all of his friends! The whole subdivision got into the spirit and I’m pretty sure the parents had as much fun (if not more) than the kids!

    My husband, who is Canadian, carves pumpkins with the kids each year, but it’s just not the same when no-one else gets to see them…

  7. This post put me in the bummer basement. Halloween is a favorite holiday of mine and I remember the joys of experiencing this event in childhood. The magic has definitely been destroyed as society has slowly changed, but I’m hopeful another Sam will pop up somewhere and take back the night.

  8. Our society is to sheltered now and we used to have the saying “the only thing to fear is fear itself” but when the t.v. constantly show’s “terrorists” (the literal harbingers of fear, ie: terror) and murders and rapes, people literally fear what is fear. Too scared to remember that the freedom and joy of life is well worth any risk, day after day. “those who would give up freedom for safety deserve neither”. And truly we have opted out for neither.

Talk To Me