Monday, 1 November 2010

Trick, Treat or Nothing (The Inconsistencies of Halloween)

It will probably not have passed you by that it was Halloween yesterday – the time of year when children dress up and run around the street begging their neighbours for sweets before racing home and crashing out as the effects of the sugar rush begin to fade away.

Or do they? I’m damned if I can tell based on our experiences over the last three years. 

Having lived in a flat with Fiance when we first moved in together, trick or treaters were never a phenomenon we had to deal with, so we weren’t particularly enamoured with the concept of having our evening interrupted on a frequent basis in order to satisfy the community’s craving for sugar. In fact, for that first year, I believe we took the easy option and elected to go out for the night, so we didn’t have to face the potential legions of greedy children knocking on our door with their outstretched witch-green hands.

Two years ago, we decided we would face 31st October in our own home, subject to the persistent knock of the trick or treaters. We went all out for it – by which I mean I bought lots of sweets that we could bribe the mini-vampires with to ensure they wouldn’t cover our front door with eggs. We sat on the couch, bag of sweets in hand awaiting the first knock on the door.

We waited all night. Not one trick or treater graced our doorstep to sample the delightful array of sugary goodies we had waiting for them. This wasn’t what we had been expecting given that our house is in a friendly neighbourhood, with a garden that backs onto a scout hut that attracts plenty of noisy little blighters on a weekly basis.

Last year, we drew on the 2008 experience and didn’t buy anything. Not a single sweet treat was purchased in order to participate in the festivities. Needless to say, we flew into a panic when the first knock on the door came, leading me to embark on a frantic scrabble through the kitchen to find anything suitable that we could placate the children with. 

After much scrambling, I found half a bag of sweets left over from the year before and shoved into a cupboard to lie forgotten for twelve months. There was nothing else for it. I went to the door and offered the somewhat sticky bag of out-of-date treats to the outstretched hands facing me. Their faces clearly displayed uncertainty as they drew their hands out of the bag and realised their fingers had been stuck together by the sugary residue that had oozed out of the packets.

The same thing happened for each of the subsequent knocks that followed – by the end of the evening, we had encountered somewhere in the region of twenty disappointed kids mumbling an uncertain thank you as they scraped the sweets off their hands and into their sacks.

2009 had thrust me into situation that I did not care to repeat, so this year, I was ready. I bought three assorted bags of The Best Sweets – an assortment of chews, and lollipops and boiled confectionery. At 4.30, I opened the bag and emptied them all into a carrier, a delight to behold that even made my 29 year old eyes bulge with happiness.

It got dark, and we awaited the onslaught that we were sure would happen based on the painful experience of 2009. At half past five, there was the first knock. I leapt up from my seat, grabbed the carrier of joy, and opened the door.

There was the cutest little skeleton standing there, who let out a barely audible but completely adorable ‘twick or tweet’ in response to my appearance. I held the bag out to him and invited him to take a few, which he did with eager enthusiasm. This year, the ‘thank you’ was genuine. Halloween 2010 had arrived and it had started out great.

I closed the door with a grin on my face and sat back down again, the sweet bag near to hand so it was ready to be proffered to the next batch of trick or treaters requesting their haul of goodies. Half an hour passed, and there was nothing. Another hour, and there had not been a single knock on the door. 

By the time it got to 8 o’clock, I faced the awful truth – there would be no more Halloween visitors to our house. Had we been blacklisted by the trick or treating community as a result of our 2009 blunder?

Whether or not this has any truth in it, what has become clear is that once again we have failed in calculating our neighbourhood’s attitude towards Halloween – whether it is over planning, or under planning we have consistently proven ourselves unable to gauge whether or not it will be a busy year.

So I guess the lesson we have learned from Halloween 2010 is that it is always better to buy lots of sweets. That way, the best case scenario and the worst case scenario are perfectly balanced – either the kids get to gorge themselves on The Best Sweets and we don’t get embarrassed, or we get to gorge ourselves on The Best Sweets and we don’t get embarrassed. Everybody is happy.

Actually scratch that – the best case scenario is always going to involve us eating an abundance of sweets. So I’m considering taking a unique strategy for 2011 – we shall buy lots of sweets, then we shall go out for the evening.

I think I have found my perfect Halloween character. 

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