halloween candy venn diagram
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I pass a handful of older middle school kids each day when I walk to pick up my sons from school. Their bus drops them off across the street about 5 minutes before my sons’ bell rings. They’re lanky, awkward boys who are always teasing each other about something.

I hear their conversation for about 10 seconds as we come into range and pass each other each day. Lately, I”ve been capturing snippets of them talking about Halloween – they’ve been obsessed with it. One day it was about how old you have to be, the next day it was about their favourite candies, yesterday it was about how to approach people for treats worrying they’d be told to go away.

There was a time when I would have told the kids to  stay home, hand out the treats at their house, and not roll around the neighbourhood with backpacks and pillowcases on an odyssey for sugar.

Not anymore.

Today, when I see the kids, I’m going to stop them and give them this advice.

trick or treat

Dear Teens Who Want To Go Trick Or Treating,

Go. Get together in a gang of 3 or 4 or 7 and go door to door and get all the candy you can. But there are some ground rules.

1. Put on a real costume. Weather permitting (it can get snowy and damn cold in Calgary at Halloween), you need to have an appropriate, thoughtful, creative costume. A dollar store mask and a hoody doesn’t cut it.

2. Be polite. Say please, say thank you, and when some older dad makes you ‘do a trick’ before you ‘get a treat’ play along with his silly ruse.

3. Little kids go first. There will be times when you come up to a door and there will 3 or 5 or a dozen kids ahead of you. Some of them will be very young and won’t fully understand the rules of the night and so they might take a while to perform the routine. I know this will hurt your ‘average time spent at each house’ to maximize rewards, but Halloween is for the kids. Let them go first, and wait your turn.

4. Respect everyone. Don’t run, don’t swear, don’t unreasonably scare kids, don’t light off fireworks where you’re not allowed. This really is just a rehash of everything else above. Halloween is a fun, inclusive, neighbourly holiday. Celebrate the season instead of having a singular, greedy focus of getting all the candy, and you’ll do just fine.

The little kids can only hack half an hour of the door knocking. You and your mates, with your wagons, and knapsacks, and cars, and pillowcases, can do it for much longer. You’ll get a haul bigger than you can imagine, just take your time, have fun, and remember it’s about the kids.

I went trick or treating when I was 33 once “just to see if I could do it.” It was a bit for the radio with a friend of mine. We had no kids, we were just two mom and dad aged people ringing doorbells asking for candy. We had costumes, we had smiles, people thought it was fun, and responded by giving us candy. We didn’t get shot down once.

I’m glad you’re old enough to be responsible, and young enough to celebrate a wonderful season.

Have fun, see you on the 31st.

If you’re on board, and you see the fun and community that can be had from ringing a neighbour’s door, sharing a laugh (or scare) while being surrounded by kids and candy, then pass this along with the hashtag #SaveHalloween.

We need to get the negativity and fear out of the season. Check this post out where I debunk all the Halloween haters!


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