How to Be a Dad

How to Be a Dad

Halloween for True Professionals

Posted by , under NOTEBOOK

An original wizard's costume

It’s no secret that Halloween is a favorite holiday for me and Andy. Just look at the top of our blog (header) today for Pumpkinsakes. Maybe it’s the magical air in a Halloween Night sky with a moon shrouded by ominous clouds. Maybe it’s the majesty of egging and toilet paper confetti. Or, perhaps, just being someone else for a night brings back the ecstasy of all the sugar comas. I can remember almost every costume I’ve ever been. I was the Wolfman over 700 times (yes, I am that old).

Depressed baby says a lot of interesting stuff.Depressed Baby knows all. Listen up.

Halloween was, for me, a night with friends in costume I wished would last forever. Sure, we’d heard the vague legends of neighborhoods giving out $5.00 bills and King-Sized Snickers bars, like a City of Gold made of candy, but those were far off lands. So, we devised highly strategic routes through our own neighborhoods, wending and winding through every nook of every street to collect our candy tithe. We knew we needed to work for our treasure. It was the only way to ensure we got a massive bounty.

So imagine my horror when I hear the newest generation of kids is ruining Halloween. A few friends and relatives said their kids spend only HALF AN HOUR working the streets because the kids were “bored” or “tired.” What the hell has happened to society? They tell me that kids are bussed into the richest neighborhoods to get their big candy haul as fast as they can and then run off only 20 minutes later.

It’s a sugar bailout. It’s like GRAND THEFT SNICKERS.

Now, I swore to myself that I’d never utter the words: “Back in my day.” But, guess what? BACK IN MY DAY, Halloween was a career. I could collect as much as 2-3 pillowcases full of loot in my prime. We were professionals. Olympic athletes of the confection collection. T-O-T operations lasted upwards of 4-5 hours a night. If I didn’t get at least 10 whole candy bars, I felt like my expedition hadn’t been successful. At the end of the night, we’d actually place our bags on scales to see who won. We’d trade up for better candy between ourselves. We had our own little economy. It was glorious.

An old route map for Halloween we used to use
The holiday was as much about community as much as it was about the candy back then… though candy definitely won the popularity contest. We connected with other groups of friends and visited houses of parents we’d known for years. As I grew older, I remember thinking that I never wanted to stop trick or treating. I never wanted to be too cool for dressing up and get into “older kid” shenanigans. But somewhere between 13 and 14 years old, it happened. I became too self-absorbed to even realize it. We still got dressed up but only just enough by that point. Worries about appearances had taken over.

Awesome costume? I know.Betcha can’t guess what I am… Can ya?

What kind of memories can be made in 30 minutes of being driven around by your parents? I thought we were growing free-range children here. I remember counting down the years until I didn’t NEED to be accompanied anymore.

Perhaps, this is the real reason our economy sucks the big Butterfinger. Kids learn they can quit when they’re tired. They learn to do things the easy way, instead of milking the night for Milky Ways. When I was a kid we were chased by drunk gang members after one of our crew, a vampire of course, shot off at the mouth. We ran into a park and watched as their Cadillac El Dorado circled and circled. We sat in the bushes munching on candy to stay sharp. It was exhilarating. When the coast was clear, we made our way back onto our candy route. We were on a mission.

Have you witness this childhood-cheating lifestyle choice? Do you drive your kids into the richer neighborhoods? Why? Safety?

Please, help your kids have some adventures. Tell them they can’t come home until they’ve managed to bag at least 5 pounds of sugar spoils. Tell them it’s the American way. Or something. There just might be a a bag of M&M’s in it for you.


How do your kids roll on Halloween night?

  • I/We walk them around and they poop out after a short time. (62%, 50 Votes)
  • Other. (Write your answer in a comment below) (15%, 12 Votes)
  • They're on their own, scavenging candy like little explorers. (14%, 11 Votes)
  • I/We drive them around, "Driving Ms. Daisy" style. (7%, 6 Votes)
  • They don't celebrate Halloween. They're insane. (2%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 81

Loading ... Loading ...


57 Responses to “Halloween for True Professionals”

  1. Angi says:

    We drive because we live out in the country and homes are multiple acres apart. In order to get more than a handful of candy, we must go into town for parties and T-O-Ting.

    • charlie says:

      Driving for that purpose is completely justified. How about the “city folk” who can’t bother to walk more than 1/2 mile to any destination? Dagnabbit.

  2. Liesbet says:

    Here in Belgium T-O-Ting is just coming up the last few years. In my days it didn’t exist, we only knew it existed in America because we saw it in the movies. Now it’s coming, but not yet everywhere, in the big cities mostly.
    But I’m ready. If a kid comes to my house one of these days, I have candy aplenty to give them. But until now, they never do 🙂

    • charlie says:

      That’s so interesting that the holiday came by way of the movies. It’s a fun holiday. Many cultures have varying themes on it, predating “halloween” itself. Interesting rituals, etc.

      • Liesbet says:

        I know. I’m a witch so I celebrate Samhain 🙂

        I meant specifically that we didn’t celebrate the holiday “Halloween” by dressing up and T-o-Ting. It used to be just the eve of All Saints’ Day, nothing special, nobody celebrated it.

        We do have other holidays in which we dress up and go from door to door to collect candy or money though: (uhm, dictionary?) Epiphany? Kids dress up as three kings and go from door to door, singing Christmas carols or special Epiphany-songs. But slowly Halloween is taking over, probably because dressing up as something scary is more fun than dressing up as a king. And because people are not as Catholic as they used to be 🙂

  3. Emily says:

    My dad, my bro and I would go out every Halloween for hours — hours, I say — with one goal: to collect more candy than the years previous. We did this living in Minnesota. And, even through the Halloween blizzard of ’91 we trudged through the blinding snow, door to door, collecting our loot (this is no exaggeration). There is no way that I will be driving my kids door-to-door (who does that? – though the previous poster’s situation makes it acceptable 🙂 ). I will be walking with them every step of the way and helping them sort out the stash when we get home. What has the world come to? haha

  4. Lisa says:

    My kids are 7, 5 and 1, so we still walk with them, but they’re pretty hardcore about it. In our area, T-o-T only lasts two hours and is the Sunday before Halloween, but they make the most of it. My daughter complained yesterday that her feet hurt and I told her that was a sign that she was earning her candy. She then proceeded to call any kid that she saw being driven around a cheater. LOL Honestly, I think if you’re going to drive the kid around, just go to the store and buy them bags of candy–that’s obviously all they’re interested in anyway. The walking door to door is the whole point of the experience.

    • charlie says:

      Yes, exactly. Screw it. Just buy them four jumbo bags of candy from Costco, have them walk up and down the block two times without talking to anyone and then just sit them in front of the TV. That’s the way to do it.

    • Haether B says:

      Walking door to door *is* the whole experience! I have fond memories of running across lawns instead of using the walkways and sidewalks, tripping due to poor visibility (good ole homemade costumes without the safety rules of today) and freaking out at the thought of my siblings getting ahead of me while I attempted to get back on my feet. I had more than a few Halloweens that included a solid faceplant. Good times! T-O-T war wounds built character! Sibling rivalry kept the competition alive! Woooo!

  5. the muskrat says:

    Up until June of this year, we lived in a gentrifying area of Atlanta, so while we went out within our ‘hood, we were somewhat careful about which houses we visited (ie, only the ones where we know the folks who live there). Driving to a more affluent area to trick or treat is for pussies.

  6. Jessica says:

    It’s really sad what’s become of Halloween. Our generation had just how you described. And, as my husband puts it, it was kinda dangerous! If you didn’t feel like at least one piece of candy in your bag was poisoned and justified picking through all the pieces (it never was) or didn’t “hear” of a neighbor kid getting a razorblade in his snickers (he never did) , you were doing it wrong.

    We had a neighborhood halloween party friday and, new to the neighborhood, told a few kiddos we saw who asked that we were going to be that house with the full sized candy bars for ToT- my adult neighbors all but rolled their eyes at us like “idiots” Sorry that we want your kids to enjoy their night like you did as kids! Oh and don’t get me started on trick or trunking where schools and churches have parents line up their cars and kids go car to car ToTing cause we all know all our neighbors want to abduct your kids! Make halloween fun again!

  7. Kara says:

    I love this post! So true. This is my son’s 3rd Halloween and he helped decorate, crave pumpkins all of it. He seems to love it like I do. We both dress up & we walk in our hood & my sisters (so he can go with his cousins). So yes we get in a car & drive to another hood for part of it. Problem last year was he wanted to eat every candy as he got it, so it was pretty slow. 🙂 Think this year he’ll understand it a bit more & be running from house to house like the big kids.
    Happy Halloween & hope your son fills 6 pillowcases. 🙂

  8. Manda says:

    My kids are only 3 and 1. We live in the hills 30 miles out of town so no neighbors.

    We’re driving into town for ‘Trick or Treat on Main Street.” It’s a ton of kids trick or treating at the stores downtown. It’s about a mile loop. Then we’ll hit a couple of the churches’ “Fall Festivals” and maybe hit a few houses.

    When I was a kid (back in the 80’s) I used to get so pissed at my mom because she wouldn’t let us go out on our own, even when we were older (12 or 13). She was convinced that there was a strung-out-kidnapper-druggie-rapist behind every tree (and our neighborhood had a lot of trees). I wasn’t even allowed to ride my bike from my little two street area until I was 10. 🙁

    • charlie says:

      Yeah, I probably wouldn’t let my 3 and 1 year olds out by themselves quite yet.

      Oh, horror movies. Thanks for convincing our parents of all the strung-out-kidnapper-druggie-rapists.

  9. Tori says:

    Here’s why we’re all a bunch of Halloweanies these days: people like me hand out mini packages of pretzels.

    • charlie says:

      PRETZELS? Do you want your house to get egged? Seriously.

      Make them chocolate covered pretzels and you have a deal.

    • I know someone who was super excited because she found packages of baby carrots to pass out for Halloween. I’ve never egged a house…but I seriously would consider trying it if I were a kid and got CARROTS for Halloween.

      • andy says:

        I never pumpkin-crushed, TPed or egged on Halloween, but I would have no problem unleashing the full arsenal on a house like that. God! I can just hear her now! In a goofy, sorta lispy voice, “But carrots are sweet! And good for their eyes!” ARG!!!

  10. Mary says:

    My husband & I walk our kids around our neighborhood. They’re 5 and 1 and we usually have a group of my daughter’s friends with us. We walk until lights start being turned off. They never get too tired of getting more candy! Usually it’s the grown-ups that end up with sore feet haha

    • charlie says:

      I remember that one well. My parents were beat from raising two kids. Funny how I never understood why they were so tired all the time, especially during Christmas and Halloween!!

  11. Monica says:

    My son is only 10 months old and not walking yet, so I plan to dress him up and drive him to ppl we know so they can see him in his Guitar Costume. Don’t worry though, once he gets older, we will be walking house to house. I will go with him b/c you can’t trust anybody anymore. Once he is quite a bit older he can go out with a group, but he will be with me for a while. I look forward to walking through the neighborhoods. I loved halloween as a kid and still do. =)

  12. dadand:Pete says:

    Wussification of America.

  13. Stephanie K. says:

    Braelyn, Liam, Jon and I will be happily running house to house this year 🙂

  14. Alli says:

    Yeah, when I was a kid, my sister and I would go to every single house we could, and we’d get so much candy that we’d make pit stops at home to empty out our bags.

    Now my niece ends the night with not even one full bag of candy. Last year, I felt really bad for one house that was a little bit up the street and with a couple of no-lights-on houses before it — most of the kids skipped going to that house because they thought it wasn’t worth it to walk uphill! 🙁

  15. Pete says:


    When I was little (late 70s early 80s), we didn’t T-O-T, instead I got to hand out candy at the front door. My (young) mum was convinced that candy apples had razor blades and candy could be poisoned.

    The schools even took time every year to explain to everyone that you never eat open candy and you make sure you bring the candy home to your parents to inspect before you got a single bit. It was worse than the pre-prom drunk driving scare tactics.

    It was a bunch of paranoid central Massachusetts adults who didn’t have the benefit of the internet to debunk their urban myths. 🙂

    T-O-T in my town here is an hour affair. My kids get a pretty big haul, but probably not 5 lbs 🙂


  16. Veronik says:

    I’m always surprised each year at the declining numbers of house that gives out candies. We can walk for an hour and a half and we barely have a pillow case worth of candies.

    That’s why my husband and I made a deal that one of us stops halfway the trick or treating and go back home to give out candies. (the good stuff too, my husband made sure of it LOL) My baby was pooped after 20 minutes anyway (He’s only 2 months old…) but my oldest went on for 3 hours (and barely made a shopping bag worth)

  17. Rachael says:

    We live in Australia so Halloween isn’t very big, infact there are some really anti halloweeners out there. My kids are only 3 and 9mths so we hold a church trunk and treat and have a party with the cousins (all 936 of them). I would love for halloween to get bigger here and got TOTing with the kids and we would so not be coming home till the car was full.

  18. brandi williams says:

    When i was younger, i remember my then teenage uncle and his girlfriend driving me to every subdivision in town until we had a trunk full of candy! then we sat and sorted it all out and i had to “pay up” and give my uncle his share.
    As an adult, i live in a subdivision where everyone comes. Parents drive around while their kids knock, some walk around instead of drive. we usually have several hundred children. This year, my son (just turned 10) walked with his friends until they had pillowcases full of candy!! My 18 month old was finished after 3 houses.
    It is sad to see the way times have changed! My halloween memories are great, and i hope my children have memories they love too!

  19. Here in France, Halloween isn’t that big either. The candy companies try to motivate everyone in the stores, but we’re surprised when/if the doorbell rings. We just buy candy we like, you know….just in case!

  20. Tasha says:

    In MO, we celebrate big. Trunk or Treats are becoming very popular. I remember as a kid my dad would walk behind us and would get beer from friends in the subdivision. What a way to make that more fun for adults! They called it trick or beer. Last night, my husband was offered beer from a house. The other parents he was with were appalled at this gesture, not my hubby! They can’t taint an unopened can of beer.

    Also back in the 80s the hospitals would open their X-ray machines for 2 hours to scan the candy loot for you. In the last few years there have been dentist offering to let kids trade in candy for toothbrushes and healthy snacks. That’s not Halloween!

  21. Hann says:

    I’m afraid to even divulge the attrocity that treat or treat has become in my town. Sometimes it’s not the kids, but the adults controlling the event.

    First off, trick or treat is never held on Halloween. EVER. It is always held the Thursday before. You know, because if it was on the 31st, the earth would open up and Hell would swallow us whole

    Secondly, it’s only an hour and a half…during daylight. That’s right 5:30 to 7:00 are the hours and you better turn off that porch light! People are trying to go to bed! Live on a side street, like us? Forget it. Kids aren’t coming to your door. There’s barely enough time to hit all the houses on Main Street. We have reverted to sitting down at the corner, usually in the cold just for the simple joy of passing out candy. Very disappointing..

    • andy says:

      What you’ve described sounds like a nightmare land, not a strange-but-cute Tim Burton one. Good for you guys for trying to keep the spirit of it alive despite the community derangement.

  22. OMG…the results of that poll are depressing…but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since I’m the one at home handing out the candy to the kids who are accompanied by parents. Sigh. My kids can’t wait until they are old enough to run off without a parent…which in our house has been when one was in 4th grade and one was in second (I have a pair of girls, then a pair of boys…each 2 grades apart…the boys just had their first “without mom & dad” trick or treating this year, girls have been doing it for a while).

    I want to scream when I hear the ads on the radio for the “Light the Night SAFE Trick or Treating.” Because really, for the majority of kids…regular trick or treating is safe. Let the kids live a little.

  23. Ang says:

    i admit that after trick or treating in our neighborhood, i did not even check my kids candy for razorblades (even though Mr. Cox across the street is looking pretty scruffy and may indeed have lost his)

  24. Helenann says:

    I chased my daughter up and down the street, all the while screaming, “ZOMBAY!!! ARRRRUGH!” And her little princess butt laughed all the way, from house to house. 🙂

  25. Merilwen says:

    Where I lived as a kid was a small town, and we only had one subdivision, so everybody went there. The police blocked off the only road going into it so the only people that could drive in there were the residents. We used to drive some neighborhoods where the houses were few and far between (this is in the country, too far to walk), but I had never heard of people driving house to house when its close enough to walk, lol. Though I think its the parents that are the lazy ones, and the sad thing is that these kids are going to think that’s how Halloween goes and do the same for their kids…..

  26. Turtle-Dove says:

    When I was a kid in a small town each neighborhood wasacked with awsome candy houses but the neighborhoods themselves were pretty far apart so we would get dressed do our nieghborhood, then my mom would drive us to the next one and we would get out and run up and down the street, I remember one house that had homemade popcorn balls and candy apples, and another were you had to sing a song and then you would get BIG candy bars “there was an old lady all skin and bones OOOooooOOOoooo”, we would do this until it was time to go to the park were the local store owner would put on an awsome fireworks display and there would be hot chocolate and hotdogs ^-^

  27. Tess says:

    My family lives in the country a little and our neighborhood doesn’t have street lamps, so we’d drive into town and set up base camp at a family friends’ house with a few other family friends. They had kids around mine and my siblings ages. The moms would stay home and give out candy, the dads would take the kids out. As we got older, the dad’s stayed home and the older kids took the younger kids out.
    I went trick-or-treating all through high school and always took my little sister out. The FREE sugar coma inducing goodies were too good to pass up. Luckily, I’m short and wore a mask as I got older so parents never yelled at me, even though I was probably too old to be out, taking candy from strangers.
    I’m in college now and I haven’t missed a single year in my entire life of trick-or-treating. My brother just had a kid, so when my sister gets too old, I’ll be tagging along with my nephew. I hope it never gets old for me 🙂

  28. Kat says:

    We drive to another neighborhood where some friends live. It is a “richer” ‘hood but that’s not why. We go because our own neighborhoods have always been BORING for ToT. Many dark houses, few kids. I grew up doing it like you guys. Once I made that candy last until close to Easter, man. That was an epic two-pillowcase year.

  29. Kevin says:

    When I was 7 or 8, I went as Yoda. Costume handmade by my mom: hacked Vulcan ears, green face paint, green toque… And my favourite part, the plush snake draped around my neck which was more a reference to the original yoda action figure, which came with a plastic snake.
    Halfway through the evening I realized I’d forgotten the snake. So when I got home, I grabbed the snake, determined to re-do the entire route so everybody could see the costume as it was intended. That’s the year I found out that people don’t keep giving out candy all night long. I think I was one of the last kids out there that year. Me and ET.

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.