Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Anybody home?

Church groups piss me off. Does anyone else remember when Halloween was a neighborhood EVENT? Does anyone remember trick-or-treating with a hundred of your nearest and dearest friends? I can remember when you didn't even have to plan to go door-to-door with someone because it was pretty likely you were going to see them out-and-about anyway. I can remember when almost every house was handing something out. It's not like that any more and it makes me a bit angry. Where is everyone? More than one house on our route had a sign on the door inviting trick-or-treaters to a certain church party. GRRRRRRRR!! Ok. If you're not going to be home, don't put pumpkins on your porch or turn your porch light on. How rude is it to make a child think they're going to your door to greet you with a loud HAPPY HALLOWEEN, only to see a note on your door that says, and I'll sum it up here, "We're so wonderful and godly that we've eschewed the ritual candy begging for Jesus. And, remember kiddies- Jesus wants YOU."? If I were a betting woman, I'd bet that these people are going to come home to pumpkins in the middle of the street. I'm not saying I'd smash them, but I certainly wouldn't tell on anyone who did. Again, it's the Christian divisiveness that annoys me. You're too good to stay in your neighborhood and chat with fellow parents? You're too holy to have your kids go door-to-door, but you'll take them to church for trunk-or-treat? It all boils down to groups of people who decide that they have to do something DIFFERENT and SEGREGATIONAL. WHY? What happened to taking pride in being "the street"? We went to so many doors where the homeowner would comment on the fact that they only had ten kids- our four included. That's just wrong, people! Take your kids out. Get to know your neighbors. Let your kids practice being civil, polite citizens with a customary "Happy Halloween" and "Thank you, Sir/Ma'am!" Visit the elderly people on your street and let them comment on how cute the little ones are or how much your kids have grown since last year. It makes them happy and it's good for your children! It's not about the's about community. I joked around that I'm going to print out pamphlets, for next year, that I can leave on the "church invitations" homes...something that says, "your neighborhood misses you."

And, you all knew this was coming...slide show our our day. There's some pumpkin painting (we didn't carve this year because it's just too harry to have two little ones running around while two, pre-teens hold knives). There's the costume photos and some cool decoration pics. Enjoy!

Captions can be viewed at the Picasa link.


Paul said...

[silentsanta, NZ]

I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one :) Yes, this is probably a first.

Coming from a Christian background, I recall my folks didn't let us celebrate Halloween because it was all about celebrating ghosts and demons and the legions of Satan- No shit!
In this case, I wouldn't go so far as to be upset about Christians opting out of the festivities, though. I mean, if we spin it the other way, lets pretend that you felt culturally obliged to participate in Ramadan- I imagine you'd be pretty pissed off :)

Imagine for a second that you come across a Christian that is completely earnest and sincere in their beliefs (yes, we both know that it's rare but it does happen...) Such a Christian who believed what my parents believed about the Forces of Satan™ would feel pretty compelled to respond somehow to the event. Surely putting an invitation on their own door is about as low-key and inoffensive as a response can really get? I mean, IANAL but I imagine they could have been on soapboxes with megaphones.

Paul said...

[Silentsanta, NZ]

I should just note that for the record, I am aware of the origins of 'Halloween'. Note that the facts on that aren't likely to sway my hypothetical Christian in the least.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one :) Yes, this is probably a first.

But, hopefully not the last time. :) Seriously, I like it when people disagree about a perspective. It keeps a person learning.
Yeah. I guess I can see your point about atheists not wanting to be forced to participate in a Christian cultural holiday (although, I would counter that x-ians *do* protest when non-christians try to back away from the Christ part of Christmas). I mean, I suppose you could say that it would be like forcing atheists TO celebrate Christ's birth... so, yeah, you have a point.

I will argue the point about Halloween being about satan and ghosts. Having grown up in a Catholic home, Halloween was considered a religious holiday. The following day, "Day of the Dead" was celebrated, too. But, I know some churches DO try to claim that Halloween is Satanic. But, my question is, then, WHY have any CHURCH PARTY? Why would you do all of the same Halloween things at church? Church parties usually include; costumes, candy, trick-or-treat and some, as we know, do "Hell Houses". I think the split comes, and this is what irritates me, when the church group believes that they're not going to celebrate Halloween in their neighborhood because it's evil or whatever, but then they hike up to a church and celebrate it with people "just like them". I don't know. They have every right to do what they wish, but it *is* (in my opinion) another divisive step. And, in America, Halloween was once a very communal holiday. It's not like that anymore and I would bet that it's changed BECAUSE of the number of church groups that have sprung up. Also, people are entirely too paranoid about trick-or-treating. I blame that on the Bush cult of fear. There was a huge write-up in a local paper about the "dangers of Halloween"...and the dangers were so out there that it was hysterical. Like, "Trick or treating exposes children to sex offenders." ??? Well, it might - but so does going to a grocery store. And, in this county, they've now made it illegal for sex offenders to hand out candy (cops go around to the addresses and see if they're doing trick-or-treat...if they are, they have violated parole). Another "warning" was "Poisoned candy." Another, "Alcoholic parties and drivers". To which my eldest said, "well, what about St. Patrick's Day?" EXACTLY! You know what our biggest fear was tonight? That Owen would trip on his costume and hurt something. Everything else was mitigated by the fact that we had three adults walking with four children and we stayed in the neighborhood we knew.

I guess I'm just disappointed that there's not much community/neighborhood spirit anymore. Halloween was one of those holidays where every kid got a face-to-face with the adults in the neighborhood. The rest of the year, if there was any problem or you were getting in was a pretty decent possibility that the neighbor knew who you were and you could, if needed, go to their door with confidence to seek help. Why don't we value that anymore? :(

Maggie Rosethorn said...

I have to say I agree 100% with you, Pmomma. We had about 70 kids show up last night, from the absolutely ADORABLE 22 month old out with his daddy (and little guy wasn't at all sure what this was all about, but when I handed him a piece of candy, he really lit up with smiles!), to my neighbor's 3 year old, to the early HS aged kids. It was great, as you said, to see how the kids have grown, and all the fun costumes. Sometimes, we do only get 10 kids or so, but here in the Northeast US, the weather has a lot to do with that.

I think, as a child and as an adult taking my kid around, I would have been really annoyed at going up to a house and seeing a sign like that on the door. I respect the Xian beliefs of people, but then, don't lure the little kids up to your door by leaving the lights on, etc. If you are NOT home, no lights. If you feel strongly about Halloween, do what a neighbor did in my hometown - stay home and hand out tracts. (We still wished them Happy Halloween and said thank you...even though none of us READ the silly things.)

When we were churchgoers, our church usually had a Halloween party for the kids the Sunday before. It was JUST a Halloween party, not meant to replace T or T, but a party for the kids in the church, and contained all the old games - bobbing for apples, eating apples off a string, making pumpkin faces with paper, etc. The kids enjoyed the party, just like any kids anywhere enjoy a party. The ONE year they tried to do the party on Halloween, they had almost no one sign up for it...everyone knew their kids would rather go T or T with their friends than to a party. They changed the date to the usual Sunday date.

Sorry for the long comment. Hope all your possums had a good time.

Poodles said...

My friend called me yesterday and said they got a notice (not that they participate, but everyone in their "ward area" got one) that they weren't doing trunk or treat this year at the local LDS ward. Why, you may ask? Because it is too expensive. WTF? One of the wealthiest churches can't afford Halloween?

I wish they didn't do it either I miss seeing all the kids while giving out candy. We only had about 20 kids this year.

Carlie said...

I think you had a very good idea about it. Letting them know that the neighborhood noticed they were absent and missed them is a way of letting them know they were noticed and what impact them being absent had on the festivities without berating them about it. Sure, they may have a religious objection, but they could hand out tracts, or darken the house completely. The method you've suggested might make them think twice because aren't they supposed to make friends with the heathens and show them how to be good and all?

trust n truth said...

I was really disappointed that so few kids come around on Halloween anymore. Only a couple of years ago, we had to make extra runs to the store for more candy because we ran out so quickly. Now, we get one bag, and it's still half-there by the end of the night!

I don't think it has much to do with religions here (though the schools put up the lame excuse that they wouldn't allow dressing up because it "might offend the Wiccans". Uh-huh.) It's more that I don't think people feel safe anymore. And we do live on a poorly-lit street, and it's very cold, and yeah. Just sad. Halloween was so different when I was little. The streets would be FILLED with kids, every porchlight was on, people spent as much time on their decorations and costumes as they do for Christmas. Parents formed huge gatherings in the middle of the street to visit. I would go home with bags of candy so heavy I couldn't carry them.

I was really happy to see the kids who did come around, even the huge group of teenagers who wanted to get one last round of trick-or-treating in before they all turned 18 in the next year. (We told them they could come back anyway.)

I don't think I would have been upset about a church invite, though it would sadden me that anyone or group of people would feel the need to have a community gathering in one location, rather than be a part of the actual community.

Kat said...

We had a sign on our door last night PMomma but ours said simply, "No Costume, No Candy." (Dressing up is a part of the deal. I still handed them candy if they were little kids but the teens without a costume go absolutely no sympathy.)

I believe we only had 25 kids show up at our door though and we were only one of TWO houses giving out candy on our block. My husband and I even went as far to do it dressed up for the kiddies.

I was one of those kids who attended a church sponsored halloween party. The neighborhood I lived in was extremely rough, we experienced a few drive-bys before I was 12 there, and the church sponsored party was simply the safest thing for us to attend. Luckily enough it was extremely secular and never had an once of religion influence it.

If all church could have had the halloween party like the one I experienced when I was a kid then I would much more okay with it. Leaving a sign on the door for an extremely religious holiday with lights on and a pumpkin is so deceitful and horrible to do kids.

Vamp DiVerL said...

Julie was going to go "Trunk or Treating" at AWANA last night, but decided against it when they demanded the only costumes allowed would be of an animal or a bible character. Hubby said, well, she could go as Pilot's

But I agree, if you're not gonna have candy, keep your lights off.

What's sad on my side of town is the kids come in carloads from their bad neighborhoods, to the better neighborhood we live in. The kids compliment our modest house for being "so nice"...

Also, what pissed me off last night, some boys got out of their car a pissed in our front yard by the side of our house. I had gone out there because there was some extremely loud rap music, only to find these teens running back to their cars. One actually did say "sorry"...lazy ass teens.

ang said...

Wow, I'm almost afraid to post. We had a very pleasant Trick or Treat night in Southern Ohio. The weather was beautiful, the trees were beautiful, the people were beautiful. No, really. I live in a nice subdivision in a rural area. We have some families who drive in because the houses are closer together. I don't mind so much because we still had probably less than 50 kids. I enjoy handing out candy. I DO make kids say Trick or Treat, tho. I think about 98% said thanks with no prompting from their parents. My dad said the little town near him was swarming with kids. So, I think it might be a regional thing. And weather, too. If it rains, not as many venture out.
As for the religious aspect, I sort of question why people decorate their homes so much IF Halloween is such a satanic holiday.
Great pics, btw.

Betsy said...

My parents also believed/believe that Halloween is Satanic and all the bs that goes with that. When I was a kid, we weren't allowed to dress up for class parties, and weren't even allowed to make pictures of pumpkins or witches in art class. It was nuts. They still just mumble "mmmm" when I tell them about my kids' costumes.
When I was a pre-teen, my sunday school teacher had a "Fall party" at her house and we all had to dress up as bible characters. Lame.

Our neighborhood had quite a turnout last night; the cop down the street makes a haunted house in his garage every year and those who did hand out candy were very nice and generous. My 3 year old quadruple dipped several times... we left candy on our porch since we wouldn't be there. Someone ran off with the bowl I had put it in. Last year they stole our recycling bin. Not sure what is up with that!

Last year we did have a snippy old lady tell us, "We don't celebrate Halloween" but we just skipped her this year. :)

Saurian200 said...

It was a really disappointing Halloween around here. We had practically no kids come around. I even dressed up in costume to hand out the candy.

The good news is that all that left over candy is now mine (and there was a lot even though by the end I was just handing kids the bowl and telling them to help themselves).

Chris said...

I don't have kids and I live on the very edge of the small patch of houses on one side of town, so I didn't go trick-or-treating and we didn't get any kids. I did ride into town to meet up with a friend of mine, though, and it just so happened to be in the middle of when the kids were out. The streets were packed! Granted, this was the "rich" area and maybe there would have been a lot more kids out in years past, but there were still more kids out than I remember seeing in the other places I lived at.

I'm kinda sad I missed out on this stuff as a kid, though. I remember going trick-or-treating only twice, and both times I had to fight to get permission. Yup, my mom was another one of those "Halloween = Satanic holiday" people. On top of that, she was one of those people who truely did believe in all the horror stories of halloween, such as the razerblade in the apple or the child molestor stealing kids. It also didn't help that for a large part of my childhood we lived with my grandma, who believed all this moreso than my mom (and she's a preacher...double whammy).

I don't remember how old I was, but the first time I was allowed to even dress up I was forced to go as Abraham while my brother went as Moses. Or maybe it was the other way around. I don't remember really, they were exactly the same costume. And where did we go? A church "Harvest Party", where we got to play silly little games to earn our candy / prizes (saying "Trick or Treat", or asking for the candy, was IIRC considered the work of the devil). I went to a couple more through the years, instead of trick-or-treating. I never went to one that was actually worth going to, though I do remember having fun at the local mall where all the store employee's dressed up and gave out candy.

Chris said...

I just realized something... Out of all us kids (I have 2 siblings), I'm the only one who's ever actually been allowed out trick-or-treating. I'm also the only one who's worn a costume that took more work than just drawing something on your face, or putting on a robe and a beach towel on your head to become Abraham.


But, I also forgot something else. My school has a yearly haunted house, which is a huge community event (thousands of people, hour+ line to get in, etc). It's held on the weekend before Halloween so we can get more people to show up. I don't think it's anything like the Harvest Parties, though. For one thing, it is a community event, and a secular one at that. Second, we actually dress up and try to scare people. Each wing of the residents hall (there's 4) gets to build their own, one of them being a very tame one for the little kids (nothing scary, just a bunch of games), and the kids are allowed to trick-or-treat around the first floor dorms. It's pretty cool. I was part of the haunted house a couple years, and I've still got the props from when I was a "murderous mental patient". A couple stuffed animals with their heads cut off and velcro attached so I can keep tearing their heads off.

They're on top of my monitor right now :)

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Maggie, thanks for the feedback. YES! The kids had a great time...Owen especially. I think this was the first year he really "got it". He was over-the-moon when one of my parents' neighbors put Play-Do in his sack. My kids actually got a few neat treats; PlayDo, crayons, the ever-so-popular McDonald's frosty coupons, pencils, etc.,. But, there were two houses that I just ROLLED in laughter at. One was this college aged guy who opened the door and when he saw the kids he said, "OH! DAMN!! I knew I forgot something!!" He had forgot that it was Halloween. He tried to give the kids money (LOL), and Grace would've taken it, but I told him not to worry about it. My mom said he came by this morning with a regular sized bag of M&Ms for the possums. He told my mom that he was impressed that the older two didn't seem to want the money. The other one that made me chuckle was the guy sitting on his porch handing out bags of microwave popcorn (unpopped). :) He looked sooooo unenthused about the whole deal. I dunno', just reminded me of something a frat guy would do.

But, anyway...we did have fun. It was Lexi's last year of trick-or-treating was kind of bittersweet.

Owen and Lexi sat on our driveway and handed out some candy, too. I think Owen liked that better than trick-or-treating.

Poodles, the LDS Church does that in the wards around here every year. That's part of the reason why so many houses are empty (lots of Mormons in my parents neighborhood). I hadn't heard the expense excuse, but one friend told me that her ward does Trunk-or-treat because it's "nice to be where there's no blood and gore." ?? WHAT!?! I honestly didn't see any "gore" last night. And, apparently she's never heard of Hell House.

Carlie, I'll probably do that next year (pamphlets). They more I think about it, the more sense it makes.

Ang, I'm jealous.

Vamp, isn't this the second time someone has pissed on the side of your house? Maybe you should put put little signs in the foliage that say "You're being filmed. Zip it up."

Betsy, they stole your recycling bin? Holy crap!

Saurian, we ended up with a lot of candy left, too. Which, we really didn't need seeing as people were dumping bowls in the kids pillowcases (since there was obviously not a lot of people out and about). I weighed Owen's, out of curiosity, and his haul was 8 lbs. And, that's just from a handful of houses. My husband was funny, though. We were letting Owen give out multiple handfuls to kids once we got back home (and after we'd delivered some special bags of candy to the neighbor kids who might've come by while WE were out). I didn't want any candy left. But, after we turned the light out, DH came out of the office with four bags of "the good stuff" (KitKats, Snickers, Reeses, and Baby Ruths). He was holding out!

Chris, am I rotten for wanting to see pictures of you as Abraham? :)

Oh, oh, oh...I almost forgot!! You have NO IDEA how many people got stumped on Grace's costume. This one lady said, "are you little miss muffet?" and Grace said, "Helloooooooo, I'm Betsy Ross!" Yeah, she got held back from three doors for being a smart ass, WAS funny (after she went to bed and we could laugh).

aimee said...

First off, Pmomma, how have you been feeling lately?

Your kids looked adorable and the pumpkins came out great. Very creative to throw in the 4th of July and Christmas too!

I think I only had 11 kids show up. The last 3 were high schoolers. We live in apartment complex and I thought there would be tons of kids. Very few people put the sign on their door letting kids know they were handing out candy. My husband ended up going into the neighborhood behind us so my kids would have a good time. They both came back with about 17 pounds of candy between them!!! And they skipped a bunch of houses.

Joe said...

Halloween was the one time of the year you saw all your neighbors, its a shame hardly anyone does it anymore, compared to what it was like 30-40 years ago back in the stone age when I was a kid.

And, I've not heard the term "trunk or treat" before. Can I get an explanation? If the church is involved, it can't be fun.

We actually had trick or treaters this year, the last three we had a total of ZERO knocks at the door. And we live in a nice part of town. Go figure.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Trunk or treat is when people gather in a parking lot and hand out candy from the trunk of their cars.

Chris said...

Wierd, I usually get in trouble doing that.

Kazim said...

Taking Ben around trick or treating was a bit of a downer for me this year. Lots and lots of dark houses, and only a few adults seemed very enthusiastic about the whole ritual. I would say only about one house in four or five had the porch light on. Maybe I've got false nostalgia, but when I was a kid it seems like the reverse was true.

Gramomster said...

I was born in '66, and all that heeby-jeeby razors-and-poison stuff was big in the news even in the early '80s.
I lived for 19 years on the West Coast. Boring, boring, sad Halloweens. Not many kids, weird paranoid xian parents, etc. Moved to Michigan, conservative midwest, right? Hah. There's a block in our neighborhood on which every house is completely decorated: one guy has the Bat Theme playing from the garage, the Bat Signal projected, and is in full Bat-regali, another is spooky with skeleton costumes, cobwebs and dry ice (actually, seveal houses have dry ice), just all kinds of amazing themes. One year, one of the houses did an Adams Family theme. Built a freaking facade onto their house to make it look like the Adams' house. I think it was foam, but it was seriously impressive! There are hundreds of kids. The surrounding blocks also do this, but not to the same extent. But you can take a kid for a half mile, and 90% of the houses are completely done up, and costumed candy-givers greet the kids. Probably another 7% give out candy, but with less over-the-top fanfare. Very few homes are dark, and there are never tracts or churchy signs on doors. Which is what I was expecting when we moved here. I have been so pleasantly surprise. I love the Midwest! I know my neighbors, and have since the first week we moved in, when they all came over, introduced themselves, invited me for tea, invited the kids to play with their kids, brought me a neighborhood phone list... and we RENT! Never have I lived someplace like this. And you know what? Not a single invitation to church, even from those who go, as it were, religiously.
My daughter and son-in-law-in-training took the grandboy down to the awesome area this week... he didn't really get it, but he liked looking at all the stuff, he was in a cute-ass monkey costume, and the parent/kids had a riot! It is absolutely tradition, ritual, what have you, and, as my daughter said, "I remember trick-or-treating in California. This is almost enough by itself to make me want to stay here. It's worth putting up with the snow to have this in childhood."

Saurian200 said...


The same thing happened here. At the begining of the night I was telling kids to take a few pieces. Then I was telling them to take a good handful. Then I was just saying, "help yourself."

At the end of the night I had only given away about a quarter of the candy. It was wierd. Halloween used to be a big deal around here but this year the neighborhood was, pardon the pun, dead.

nomoxian said...

the pumpkin with the christmas tree made me chuckle, but then i saw the other side! XD

tina said...

I dress up every year and usually go trick-or-treating with my daughter and son-in-law and my grandson, he gets a kick out of me going. He tries to hang out with me while we're walking. But this year I stayed home and gave out candy, my worst fear in my Michigan neighborhood was someone robbing me when I answered my own door. :( But we only had a few kids and it got late, two teens came to my door without costumes but I gave them most of the left over candy.

Perpetual Beginner said...

We came close to doing that in reverse one year. The local area (heavily Southern Baptist), decided that they were having Halloween on the 30th, because the 31st was on a Sunday. We were like "Hello? Halloween is an honest to goodness religious holiday for some people. You wouldn't make Hannakah a different day because it fell across Christmas." On the 30th we left our porch lights off, but people still kept ringing our bell, so finally we put up a big sign that said "Halloween is tomorrow. Please come back then." and went out to dinner. Nobody came back the next day though.

Country Wife said...

We have the most bizarre Halloween customs here in our area: no one trick-or-treats ON Halloween! It's always a scheduled date/time before Halloween, and it's hour for our area. At least there's a parade at the end.

We live out in the boonies, so we drove to the nearby village for 'Beggar's Night' (trick or treat). It was positively storybook! So many kids, so many great costumes, and not one teenager lugging a pillowcase with some greasepaint smeared on their face (something we saw a lot of in the city). This was our first T or T in this area, and we loved it.

But I do miss how we used to do it(back in the day)..ON Halloween, for hours and hours until we were ready to drop, every house passing out candy..*sigh*.

CountryWife...formerly Queen Pickle