Gretchen L. Kelly, Author

Five Rules For The Jackholes Trying To Ruin Halloween

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“All I wanna do is have some fun, I gotta feeling I’m not the only one”

-Sheryl Crow, All I Wanna Do 

Can we not suck the fun out of Halloween?

Can we have one day? One day where it’s just about having fun and there are no guidelines or parameters or judgement or rules?

I’ve been hearing plenty of grumbling on both mainstream and social media. Things that annoy people about Halloween. “Rules” for trick or treating.

There’s been an abundance of people who seem to have a stick up their candy bowl.

They have been lamenting the kids who trample their grass, don’t ask politely for candy. The ones who take the candy and don’t say thank you. People who wonder at the wisdom of giving candy when more kids are overweight. Remember the lady who handed out fat shaming letters to trick or treaters? And there are people who think it’s their job to determine how old is too old for trick or treating.

As a public service and as a person who loves this holiday, I am going to share some thoughts.

Halloween is supposed to be the bad-ass holiday. It’s about being scary. It’s about being scared. It’s about running around in the dark. It’s about playing pranks, having fun. It’s supposed to be harmless mayhem. I don’t want to see Halloween morph into some nauseating Elf On the Shelf type of watered-down cuteness. I don’t want the pre-planned manufactured fun borne of Martha Stewart and Pinterest. Let’s not ruin Halloween.

On behalf of those who like this holiday and aren’t mean fun-sucking candy haters, I’d like to share a few of my “rules.”

1. Turn Off the Lights This one’s really simple, you don’t have to participate. You can turn off your porch light. In fact, if kids and their seeking of candy really bother you, I’m going to ask that you turn off your lights, close your blinds and go to bed because it sounds like you could really use a good night’s sleep.

2. This Ain’t No Disco. And It Ain’t No Country Club. And it’s not a dog and pony show. This is not an exhibition in which kids curtsy and look cute and act proper and display their good grooming and well-appointed manners. It’s not a test in ettiquete or in ANYTHING. Even the most well-disciplined well mannered kids will possibly- nay probably- forget a “Thank you” in their haste and excitement to run off to the next house. Don’t take it personally. Really, it’s not about you. They’re just excited, mkay?

3. You Can’t Guess No One’s Age So Don’t Even Try. Don’t be coy. You know what I’m talking about. The big kids. You know, the ones with a five o’clock shadow and awkward gangly limbs? They travel in packs. They mumble. They look at the ground when talking to you. They look like they might be too old for such childish antics. I’m going to try to appeal to your sympathies as someone who once went through this yourself. Please understand that the kid with the mustache might only be 13. The girl with the ample bosom may only be 12. Kids this age are impossible to identify by age. I dare you to go to any middle school or high school and try.

They are going through the most confusing and awkward period of adolescence. Their brains are sucked dry by the hormones that are running roughshod over their whole existence. They are uncomfortable in their own skin and they probably debated about even going trick or treating. They are at that stage where they still want to be a kid and have fun, but know it might not be cool. So don’t make them feel completely uncool by sneering or asking their age or refusing them candy. Even if they’re not dressed up. They may not have planned on going trick or treating. They may have had their friends knock on their door at the last minute pulling them out of the house. Let them have this. That kid that looks like he could be changing the oil on your car may be still watching Sponge Bob and cuddling on the couch with his parents. Don’t make him think he’s too old for any of it.

4. Kids From Other Neighborhoods ARE Allowed. I honestly can’t believe I have to even say this….

But we cannot segregate Halloween and trick or treating by class or by race or by neighborhood.

If you are bothered by “others” encroaching on your precious ‘hood, then I am going to politely point out that you might be an asshole.

And by this I mean that your head is so far up your McMansion that you may need to seek professional help.

I live in a neighborhood with sidewalks and houses close together. Around our ‘hood? It’s largely rural. We have carloads and vans that drop their kids off to trick or treat. From (gasp!) other neighborhoods. We have to buy insane amounts of candy to give out. I’ve heard grumbles from some. But those grumbles are drowned out by the rest of us. By most of us. You know, the ones having fun. The ones who don’t care where a kid is from. Those elitist whiners are muffled by the all of the houses that put on interactive displays in their front yards. By the neighbors that go to a lot of trouble and time and expense to put on haunted houses in their garages. By the parents that sit at the end of their driveway and chat with the adults passing by. Sometimes handing a cold one to a weary parent. By the people that want others to enjoy the holiday, no matter where they’re from. If all of this welcoming and camaraderie is disturbing to you, please see Rule # 1.

5. There Are No Rules. Yes. There are no rules. Other than the basic rules of conduct. Like no vandalism or stealing. Rules that don’t even need to be stated because they should be an intrinsic part of being a decent human being. Rules like don’t judge parents or kids based on where they’re from and if they belong on your doorstep. Rules like don’t be mean to a growing kid. Basic civility and decorum. Try it. Try having no expectations and just go with it. Have fun. Laugh with the kids. Laugh and chat with the adults. You may find yourself enjoying Halloween more than ever.

Me? I love Halloween. I’ll be painting my kids’ faces, helping them with their costumes. I’ll be managing a sleepover of 4 teen age boys who want to play video games and watch horror movies. And I’ll be scrambling to help them piece together last minute costumes when they decide to go out to “just a few houses.” I’ll be lecturing them about being respectful and letting the little ones go first. I’ll be holding my breath hoping that ALL of my kids, younger and older, listen to their Mama and do right.

I’ll be enjoying all of the adorable kids, younger and older, who end up on my doorstep. I’ll visit a few of the haunted houses in my ‘hood. At some point I’ll put a giant bowl of candy on my porch with a little sign asking the kids to take just two. And I’ll do this knowing that some kid’s going to dump the whole bowl in their bag. That’s ok. I’m not gonna sweat it.

I’ll be down at my neighbor’s. I heard they’re passing out cold ones.

38 Responses

  1. Right on! As a fellow Halloween lover, I concur with all of this. And my sister-in-law and her husband have a very similar situation to you…they get all kinds of kids from everywhere coming to their neighborhood. And they have so much fun with it. Every year they keep track of how many trick-or-treaters they get with a little clicker…like a competition…to see if they can beat the year before. And they buy candy throughout the year whenever it is on sale to prepare. I’m always a little jealous because we don’t get as many trick-or-treaters as I would like. It’s like all my amazing decorations go to waste 🙂

    1. Oh no! I haven’t bought any candy yet!!!! I usually task my husband with that and things have been so crazy and he’s been gone all week! I’m starting to panic now! (If you hadn’t commented I might have been answering my door and giving out canned goods and paper clips!) Off to the store!

  2. I definitely agree with the age thing. The town I do my trick-or-treating in is trying to make it a rule that no one over 13 can do it. I really enjoy dressing up and getting free candy, there’s really no harm in that? Or ya know, I could be out egging houses. At least when I’m trick-or-treating, I’m not doing any acts of vandalizing….
    Also, I’ll be eighteen next month and I still look like a fifteen year old. Kids just don’t look their ages anymore. xD

    1. I don’t think there should be any age limits on trick or treating or dressing up! I don’t know who decided Halloween was just for the little kids? I still love dressing up! I’m not very good at it or that creative with it but it’s so much fun! If my kid wants to trick or treat, I don’t see how that’s a bad thing? Hope you have fun and have a great Halloween!

    1. Awww, I love you too Mandi, not only because you’re gifted with your words, but because you’re all about fun too! We would have some good times, you and I! And yes, Jackholes. If the word fits, right?

        1. Are you serious? That’s hilarious! I haven’t been over there yet, I’ve been awful about reading blogs lately! I know it’s gotta be good, I read the one earlier this week! I’ll definitely have to check it out now…

          1. And I have been an internet ghost for a while. I totally understand. I have so much to catch up on. Slowly I’m coming back around.

  3. Damn straight! As for “Remember the lady who handed out fat shaming letters to trick or treaters?” Are you frickin sh*tting me?! I had not heard about that.
    As you said, some folks just need a really long nap 🙁
    Great post!

    1. You know, I probably should have put a link to an article about it. It was a woman last year who gave letters instead of candy to any kids who were overweight. If I can find the link I’ll put it here. You will be shocked. There are some people that really shouldn’t interact with kids. Or people in general.

    1. I know! Are people getting grumpier? Or is it that they have a bigger mouth piece with social media? Either way, they need to crawl back in their miserable little holes and let the rest of us have fun! (and than you, by the way)

  4. I am OK with whoever at whatever age they appear to be as long as they attempted to dress up. My brother was very tall at a very young age so I remember he had to give up T or T around eight because of people who were ugly about it.

    Sadly, I work late, so I am a scrooge that will have their lights off. So please don’t bang on my door over and over; I would play if I could but likely I really will be asleep.

    I’ll see your lady with the “overweight PSA” letters and add that this is not the time to promote your religion. If you don’t agree with Halloween, fine, but don’t take advantage of it to give out tracts either.

    That letter that was all over the web this week about how to keep candy for only the kids in one particular neighborhood cracked me up. “No full-size Snickers for you, you come from the Smarties side of town.”

    1. That’s so sad that your brother had to stop trick or treating at 8 years old! And I think everyone should abide by the lights off / don’t knock rule. (Another thing I need to make sure I tell my son if he does go out) And I totally agree. I won’t promote my political views or my non-profits that I care about if you don’t promote your religion. It’s just a day for kids (and adults) to have fun and eat lots of candy, people! And that letter was ridiculous. At first I thought it must have been made up. But that’s silly of me to think, we’ve all heard people say things like that. But the “smarties side of town” takes it to a whole new level of ridiculousness!

  5. You got the right kind of spirit for this, G.

    (see what I did there?)

    Your rules are fabulous and I hope people pay attention and abide by them somehow, and that you have a wonderful Halloween.

    1. Lizzi! You’re so funny! In high school some of my friends called me “G.” The school we went to was Garinger and it was in the hood and we called it “Tha G” So by default my friends referred to me that way too. Which was kind of funny because I’m the dorkiest not hip or cool type. Even more dorky in high school. So I guess it was meant in an ironic way.

      And thank you, I will have a fun Halloween! The people who live across from me put on an amazing haunted house every year and everyone in my ‘hood 🙂 comes to see it. It should be a fun night. Do you guys celebrate Halloween there? I don’t know if I’m right, but I thought it originated in Europe, didn’t know if it was celebrated at all or in the same way we Yanks do (is that what you call us? I could be obnoxious and ask you cultural difference questions all night)

      1. Heheh I don’t call youse Yanks – I think that’s a bit of a derogatory term of reference. I call y’all ‘my ‘Muricans’ 😉 It originated in Europe, perhaps. I know it’s a bigger deal in Ireland, where it’s celebrated as All Hallows Eve, rather than Halloween, and the point is to dress up as spirits and spooks to trick the real ones into leaving you alone. Or something like that.

        But no – not that big of a deal in England, though the shops are (of course) trying to commercialise it and capitalise on it, kind of kicking us all into the American Way of doing things, if they possibly can.

        I shall be going boxing and then coming home and WRITING. It’s going to be lovely. I don’t think there’ll be any trick-or-treaters coming, because you need a key fob to get into my block, so that’s good.

        You don’t strike me as in ANY way dorky or un-hip, but perhaps that’s only because I’m dorkier and even less hip. I didn’t have friends in school to give me a nickname, so at least you had people to hang with, who liked you, right? School sucked. I’m glad to be past it, and now I get to be friends with everyone, if I can be 🙂 I’m just glad you didn’t mind 🙂

  6. Yes, yes, yes, yes , and yes! Isn’t it sad that there is not one traditional holiday or day of fun that isn’t hated on by some. I am in total agreement. If you don’t want t o be part of it, fine. But leave the rest of us alone to have a little fun and blow off a little steam.

    Very well said, my friend! Bravo!

    1. Thank you Sandy! I really don’t want to be stressing tomorrow about whether my five year old said thank you for the 30th time at the 30th house. I mean, I’m all for manners, but everyone just needs to chill! I don’t know if more people are making a fuss over Halloween this year or if I’m just now picking up on it, but wow. I hope you have a fun-filled awesome Halloween- with no haters!

    1. Ha! Yes it is! This week they complain about Halloween. These people will always bitch about others having fun. Playing music too loud. Dancing. Singing. Laughing. Fun people, eh?

  7. I LOVE this!
    My girlfriend lives in Westchester, and her town really gets into the spirit of things. There are lots of haunted houses, and grownups dressed up and in character, and giving out hot, spiked apple cider to the parents. It’s such a great bonding experience for the whole town.

    I do have one tiny little request, and I’m probably a jackhole for mentioning it. I wish the high school girls where I live didn’t think that a costume is wearing the kind of lingerie I didn’t even know EXISTED until I was in my 20’s. I wish they still wanted to be cute, or beautiful, or sassy, or anything except so hypersexualized.

    You write the best stuff, Gretchen. xoxo

    1. Thanks girl! No, I totally agree with you about the lingerie costumes. That is very disturbing. And I’m not a prude but I don’t want to have to shield my teen age son’s eyes when he sees a trick or treater come to the door! It makes me sad that some girls feel they need to take it to that extreme. And seriously, I know I’m (kind of) old, but we didn’t have that kind of lingerie at our disposal when we were in High School! I couldn’t afford to spend money on it even if I’d wanted to! Makes me want to shake my head and mutter about these “kids” and sound like a really annoying old person.
      Although this reminds me of one year when my mom helped my sister dress up like a Playboy Bunny. But a classy one, you know the old Hefner girls that wore the black leotards and fishnets and served drinks at the club? That was her. I have no idea why my mom let her teen-age daughter go out like that! And I’m pretty sure it was her idea too! We gave her hell about that recently and she pretended not to remember but we have the pictures to prove it…

      1. Okay, a Playboy bunny has about 10 times more coverage than what I’m talking about!

        I’m talking about a low cut bra, a thong, and sheer black thigh high stockings.

        “What are you being for Halloween, Brittany?”

        *giggle* “Oh, a Cheap Hooker!”

        What will be the trend when my son is a teenager? Totally nude with body paint?

        Oh dear God I sound like such an old fart. And I’m a cool mom! I just think that girls don’t even realize it shows a lack of self respect. They’re brainwashed, and haven’t made that connection.

      2. Well although I agree 100% with your article – that stupid uneducated comment you made about lingerie kinda blows it for ya. Yes you are a prude! Shield your son’s eyes! are you f’n kidding me? that’s why your son is gonna rape someone someday, your not letting him jerk off & release to some good spank-bank material Jesus christ girl learn a little bit about sexuality already. It’s people like you who cause date rape later in life.

  8. Enjoyed reading about the fun to celebrate Halloween and face painting that makes it something to remember. I hope to get an opportunity to celebrate it one day and enjoyed reading thus yummy post 🙂

  9. I disagree. You should participate especially if you are somewhere with alot of kids. All it is is rude and selfish, its about the kids NOT YOU LOSER! And one must always ask themselves before making a decision…”What if everyone did this?”. Wouldnt be so nice would it, so what makes you so special? Turn your lights off and get egged, thats how we used to play.

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