Trick or treating was banned in the village where I grew up. It was sort of like that Kevin Bacon movie, “Footloose” where the town council bans dancing after some kids are killed returning home from a dance. Rumour had it that one year a little girl in our neighbourhood had been hit by a car and killed while she was out trick or treating. The community leaders met and decided that letting children go door to door to beg for candy was too dangerous and was henceforth outlawed.
Instead, all of the parents (read: moms) gathered together the week before Halloween, with their assigned treats, and stuffed large paper bags with all sorts of Halloween goodies – chips, chocolate bars, cans of pops, even the yucky stuff like candy kisses made into those bags. They filled enough bags so that every kid in the village would get one.
Then, on Halloween night, all of the kids would get dressed up in their Halloween finest and go to Rec Centre for a two-hour ‘party’. The party was the same every year. March in, sit down, listen to a speech about how much fun we were going to have. Then the musical chairs portion of the evening would be begin. We all got in small circles and marched around to the music, while the judges fluttered in and out of our groups. If they tapped you on the shoulder, it meant you had to sit down because your costume was lame and you weren’t going to win the costume contest. By the end, there was only one boy and one girl left standing – the winners of the Costume Contest! Hooray for them! Then we would play some spooky games until it was time to get our treat bags. Once we got our bags we were put out of our misery and allowed to watch a movie, while we ate as much candy as we could shove in our faces. For some reason, the movie was always, Ed, The Talking Horse, a rather bizarre Halloween choice I always thought.
One year, in a fit of Halloween frenzy, my mother made me an angel costume. I had long blonde hair then and when my mother put the halo on my head, I felt like I WAS an angel. Unfortunately, that was also the year the community decided to combine the annual Halloween party with an outdoor skating party. Halloween night arrived and it was about -20 degrees outside.
My father insisted I wear my winter coat.
“But it will cover up my costume!” I protested.
“Well, just put your coat on under your costume.”
I figured this was better than hiding my beautiful costume, so I put my puffy coat on first and then had my mother wriggle the dress over my head. She adjusted the halo and stepped back.
“Does it look OK?” I asked.
“Now you look like a pregnant angel,” my father said, starting to laugh.
This set my younger brother off and soon they were both howling at the 10-year-old pregnant angel.
My mother fussed with my outfit and whispered, “Ignore them. You look lovely.”
I did not look lovely. I looked like an albino penguin and skated like one, too. Thanks to my brother, all of the other kids called me “the pregnant angel” within minutes of my arrival. And I didn’t win the costume contest. I think the judges thought there was something unseemly about a pregnant angel.
Eventually the ban on trick-or-treating was lifted but by then, I was too old and ‘mature’ to go door to door. It left a bad taste in my mouth…one that I have tried to get rid of for years by eating numerous tiny chocolate bars and small, air-filled bags of chips. But I still do my civic duty and hand out treats to the youngsters when they come to my door. And when I see a little girl who looks miserable because she’s been forced to cover up her costume with her coat or even worse, jam it on underneath her costume, I give her a little extra treat. Eat up honey…it takes away the bad taste.