Thursday, November 1, 2007

Ding dong..."Trickertreet!"

It's now November, and Halloween has passed without so much as a pumpkin seed sliming up my kitchen counter. I truly miss having little kids who get thrilled picking out a costume and carrying their orange felt bags to the neighbors' doors. They shout a single code word, "trickertreet!" that means "It's Halloween and when I say this you smile and give me CANDY!"

There's something wonderful watching your kids go to neighbors' doors with expectation and see the delighted residents asking about the costumes and waving and saying hi again after a year of busy lives. And at the end of the night, seeing the kids dump out their loot and sort the ones they like from the not-so-good ones (or the nonkosher ones, in our case) and hoarding and savoring their sweets.
My husband says this happy ritual teaches kids to be beggers and expect something for nothing--or worse, to present a threat and get rewarded! I don't know any kids who became beggers or muggers from trick-or-treating--sorry.
Is Halloween Jewish? Of course not, but neither is it Druidic or Celtic or Satanic. What we have in the United States every October 31 is a non-religious holiday that is uniquely American. We have every public school elementary teacher in the country decorating her classroom with jolly pumpkins and arched-spine black cats, and skeletons. Are these things scary to little kids? Not at all.

And when the big day arrives, there's the parade of costumes, all marching through the school as parents on the sidelines click snapshots, grinning and laughing and cooing and having a marvelous, and memorable time. Yes, occasionally mean teenagers pull vandalistic pranks, and stores sell far too many risque outfits in size small. But the reckless drunks would do just the same if the party were called for another reason, or not at all. The kids, meanwhile, get to be Princesses (the number one costume) or Spiderman (#2) or pirates (#3) and watch Dad carve spikey teeth into an overgrown orange squash.

So how did I spend Halloween? Sulking that I wasn't walking with my kids in the neighborhood, where I heard squeals and laughter echoing from the street. When the doorbell rang, I rushed with my platter of m&ms, Three Musketeers, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and Kit Kats to open the door to that chorus of "trickertreet!" and ask each child, "and what are YOU?" It's hard to grow out of being a kid, when those memories of years past are too vivid and heartwarming to forget.


  1. Yay! I'm totally with you! I decided this year to finally ignore my uneasiness about celebrating/observing or whatever-you-call-it Halloween... and we had so much FUN! Daddy & boy even carved 2 pumpkins, one happy and one scary - and the happy one's teeth are just like the boy's (i.e. top two missing). And they got candles, and greeted our Shabbos guests, albeit unorthodox-ly. Since they go to a right wing school it'll all even out anyway... btw, who IS that cute dragon-boy?

  2. Hmm. I hear your nostalgia, but I think that halachically there are issues with celebrating Halloween, as it does have pagan origins. Besides, we have a WAY better, and more spiritual, "alternative" ... it's called Purim :).

  3. Thanks, Mink, and I'm glad you enjoyed the evening--the dragon boy is our dear friend/neighbor and the other one is my son, a couple years ago, both in our living room.
    Apple, I love Purim, too! And for Purim, we go ALL out, and decorate and have a HUGE party for all our friends--every year! And for Purim, I get dressed in rather elaborate costumes and give the BEST shaloch manos. I just don't think Purim and Halloween are mutually exclusive--Purim is Jewish, and Halloween is secular. I respect those who disagree, though, and thanks for your comments!