Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wisconsin 101: They do Halloween wrong here

SH and I are going through our annual Halloween debate. We have had this discussion every year since the second year we were in the house.

The first year, Halloween fell on a Friday and we noticed nothing amiss. (I think - I think the rule is either Friday or Saturday trick or treating. I could be wrong.)

Wait. We weren't even here on Halloween our first year. It was our second year that we realized that something was amiss.

We realized that our neighborhood - indeed, the entire Milwaukee metropolitan area (doesn't that make us sound fancy and grand!) - refuses to honor the actual date of Halloween and instead bends Halloween to its will, its will being that Halloween, as so many other things in the Great State of Wisconsin, will be subject to the whims of socialist control, or German control, or perhaps both. This is a German state, y'all, and I understand completely the German desire - the German compulsion - to order the world to be more efficient and to make people follow the rules and to make them conform. I understand because I have lots of German blood in me, but I have lived in non-German places, including a significant amount of time in Latin cultures, where rules are suggestions and one is to shrug at the idea of someone else bossing you around and being obsessive about being on time and in order.  These values are German but are not necessarily universally held.

The way it works here is that trick or treating happens at the whim of the township. In our town, a Milwaukee suburb, in our neighborhood, trick or treating will happen on the Saturday before Halloween.

But that's not all.

To participate in the neighborhood trick or treating, you must be a member of the neighborhood association. You must also contribute 50 pieces of candy to the cause. I think you then get some candy to give out.

This race to the bottom means that people don't buy good candy because what's the point of buying good candy if you have to give it away so it can be given to someone else to distribute? If I am going to hand out Good Candy, ie, little brand-name chocolate bars, I want the credit for it.

So you have to sign up, join the neighborhood association, and give candy. Then you get some special sign or something to put in your window so people know your house is safe.

Kids who are participating - because of course you have to sign up if you want your kids to be able to trick or treat - get a special thingie - I think a glowstick - to indicate they are of The Elect.

This event is not open to people who live outside the neighborhood.


1. The kids don't trick or treat on Halloween
2. You have to pay to give out candy
3. Kids from outside the neighborhood are not allowed.

Every single one of these things is wrong, wrong, wrong.

We live in a city that has a lot of poor people. It used to bug me that kids from outside of my neighborhood would trick or treat in my neighborhood. Then I realized their parents just wanted them to be able to go door to door in a safe neighborhood. So it cost me $20 for candy for non-neighborhood kids. Big deal.

Not trick or treating on Halloween is just dumb. What's so bad about celebrating the holiday on the holiday?

And don't make me pay an extra $10 just to give out candy.

So our debate goes like this:

1. Are we going to pay to give out candy?

The answer to that one is "No!"

2. Are we going to buy candy to give out on Halloween, because despite the rules, there are some kids who still trick or treat on Halloween. These are kids after my heart. They are doing it right.

The answer follows this additional question, "Should we spend money to give to kids who insist on doing it right?" Which of course is "Yes!"

Which is why SH looked at the Sunday ads, saw a coupon for Reese's peanut butter cups and for Kit Kats, and said, "I'm going to Target to load up." Which is better than our usual strategy of saying that we're not going to do it but then seeing all these cute little kids wandering the street and thinking, "We should have candy!" and then rushing to Walgreen's to pick up the dregs.


webb said...

Three cheers for SH this week. You may be bucking the system, but you are definitely doing it right.

None of those silly rules here, but everyone is so OLD in our neighborhood, that last year not a single goblin materialized. Hoping for at least one this year. York Peppermint Patties and a big - i mean BIG - pumpkin to announce that we are open for business.

Hope you get lots.

Anonymous said...

In my 'hood, the 'safe' option is to TorT at the mall (as if!) the weekend before. You have got to be kidding me!
I'm all about the kids, so excited to be all dressed up, knocking at the door. Not so sure about the HSers who show up after 8:30, many without a costume. But, they are taller than I am, so I'm not inclined to deny them the Snickers.

Pam said...

Good for you and GOOD FOR SH.

I have a lot of German in me, too, and was raised by a heck of a lot of 'em, and I am just about sick to death of Germans and their rules and the Whole Attitude.

Koala Blue said...

Somehow Halloween has migrated to Australia. It's not something that ever happened here until a few years ago. But now we get the local kids coming around in costumes, with mothers hovering outside on the street. Some people here are critical but I think it's fun.

Joy said...

I am generally all about German on time and in order-ness. But I also find the practice of trick-or-treating on a day other than Halloween ridiculous.

John the River said...

I grew up in a Danish, Irish, Italian neighborhood in a old Yankee town. We were Irish-Danish.
The Danish ladies in town baked fresh cookies, I had a Danish grandmother and three Danish aunts who instructed me to bring all my friends by to make sure they could give out the mountains of cookies (only time of the year I had that many friends).

Where I live now, in thirty years I've never had one kid who hiked up the 300 foot unlit dirt driveway on Halloween. My wife used to eat up all the unused candy (that she insisted we buy).