Halloween. A holiday that is sure to turn little ones into giddy ghouls and big ones into partying fools.
As a kid, I loved the holiday. What kid doesn't love the fantasy of dress up combined with free candy? What I didn't love was that I was never allowed to get store-bought costumes. And our homemade costumes were always lame. Many a Halloween I dressed up like a hobo with dirty flannel shirt and cork-blackened face. Eventually, I found the holiday tiresome.
When I became a mom, Halloween became fun again. I had a blast decorating the house and coming up with costumes each year. Winnie-the-Pooh, farm animals, ghouls and goblins, poodle skirts, and ninja turtles were just some of the fun disguises worn by my kids over the years. My favorite was the year my daughter was Cruella Deville and her baby brother was a Dalmatian. When they were younger, I got to pick the costumes. As they aged, they inserted their voices and they now pick their holiday alter-egos. I maintain veto power, though, and they know that they are not going to break the bank for an outfit that they'll never wear again. In addition, I will not allow my 14-year-old daughter to dress like she is on her way out for a pole-dancer audition, which seems to be a trend among teenage girls. Those are the costumes that get me running and screaming.
Now that my daughter is 14, I'm starting to wonder, how old is too old to go trick-or-treating on Halloween? I don't think my daughter is too old ... yet. But I'm thinking she might be getting there in a year or two.
Apparently, the question has been asked by some government officials throughout the country, as there are cities in various states, including Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Illinois that have restrictions on the books. Several cities prohibit trick-or-treating for anyone over the age of 12; if teens are found going door-to-door in search of candy on Halloween they could be charged and fined. It seems that many of the ordinances were in response to citizens that complained they feared opening their doors to 6-foot-tall candy seekers.
As I perused various online message board posts on the subject, I found that most folks do not agree with an age restriction. The general theme among posters seemed to be that Halloween is supposed to be a fun holiday to be enjoyed by all children who take the time to dress up. One poster, who said people need to "Quit being such poopers," said she will give treats to anyone between the ages of 1 and 33. Another poster said that anyone who would support taking Halloween away from teenagers is just uptight. The majority of posters on message boards and those who responded to my mini-poll on a social networking site confessed that they love Halloween and think you're never too old to dress up and have fun. With that said, though, many agree that older teenagers who exert little or no effort to dress up for trick-or-treating are not deserving of a sweet treat.
Another interesting trend is the institution of time restrictions for the trick and/or treating. My town and others around us limit treat-seeking to two hours (6 p.m. to 8 p.m.). My brother, who lives in a town with no restrictions and spends hours walking his kids around from house to house, thinks that it's a travesty that city officials would limit the times. I recall when we were younger we would trick-or-treat around town all day.
As an adult, I was never really into dressing in costume on Halloween. Perhaps my lack of Halloween creativity as a kid lead to my disinterest as an adult. Not so for many of my friends who attend and host costume parties year after year. They demonstrate their affection for the holiday by putting a lot of thought and money into their costumes; they especially love the couple-themed masquerading - Bonnie and Clyde, Adam and Eve, or pirate and wench, for example. I, on the other hand, prefer the party invite that says, "Costumes not required." Even better is the latest block party trend started by my awesome neighbors who coordinate contributions of food, treats, and adult libations. Now you're talking. Suddenly, I'm a fan again.
I guess the bottom line is, no matter what your age, whether you dress in costume or not, you can have fun on Halloween ... as long as you're not a "pooper."