Getting into the spirit of Halloween

Soon, little masked hobgoblins will be knocking at our doors wanting handfuls of candy and it’s important to remember the rules of good behavior – for adults – not just the children.

I often hear oldsters grumble about the unruly behavior of youths, but my experience is that it is the adults who tend to be the real jerks during this doorstep masquerade.

A person I knew, who was married to a prominent attorney, really took off her mask on Halloween. She lived in a nice house in an expensive neighborhood. Her chief complaint about trick-or-treaters was they weren’t “neighborhood children.”

That’s a coded way of saying she didn’t like Black trick-or-treaters in her hoity-toity subdivision.

She bragged about her screening process. When youngsters she didn’t recognize would knock on her door, she started asking questions. “Where do you kids live?” “Who are your parents?” “Oh, you live on the next street over? In what house?”

Come on, it’s just a Snickers bar. Give it to anyone who asks. No one will ever complain about you being too generous.

And what prompted these questions? Well, these were mostly Black youngsters from Springfield’s east side who came to trick-or-treat in the more affluent, mostly white neighborhoods on the city’s west side.

Why might they do this? Well, many folks in their own neighborhoods can’t afford to give away candy. Some neighborhoods are safer than others for children to walk through at night. And there are no rules that say you can’t trick-or-treat wherever you like.

And rest assured, grade-school children on your doorstep know why you’re asking those questions. They know you’re a bigot, even if you haven’t figured that out about yourself yet.

Some religious groups such as Jehovah’s Witnesses object to Halloween. It’s understandable that they keep their porch lights off. But some evangelicals – the faith group I belong to – perplex me.

Most evangelicals I know participate in the holiday. A few evangelicals refrain because they believe it’s the “devil’s holiday.” But over the years I’ve had several friends who viewed the holiday as an opportunity to proselytize. Instead of giving away candy, they hand out Bible tracts.

I don’t claim to be an expert on evangelism. But my guess is that children leave those front porches disappointed and their parents irritated. Some people complain about teenagers trick-or-treating,

The way I look at it is, they are choosing childhood over partying. Just enjoy them while you still have them.

As for parents, take time to be with your kids. I remember when I was 4 years old, dressing up for the preschool Halloween parade and my father sitting with a group of moms watching us walk by. Dads just didn’t do that back in 1969. In fact, it made such an impression on me, I still remember it 53 years later.

And finally, there is the issue of costumes. A child dressed as a hobo isn’t belittling the homeless. Kids dressed as witches and devils aren’t glorifying the occult. And as for the ones dressed as politicians, don’t be surprised they are standing on your step wanting a handout.