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.