It happens every year.
They come to your door, taller than you, baritone voices and facial hair abound.
The females? Let's just say that their costumes are often not PG-rated, to say the least.
Yet they're heralding the Halloween battle-cry: "Trick or Treat!!"
What do you do?
Beside them, in front of them, behind them are kids -- real kids -- ones who can barely walk and in some cases, carried by their parents. Ones who have just learned about the joys of the quid pro quo deal offered through the Halloween covenant: Ask and ye shall receive.
These little ones deserve candy, and more. After all, they've taken the time to dress up, helped by their parents, buoyed by the excitement and anticipation that this annual "high holiday" of childhood brings. For weeks, they've been planning their costumes and waiting with bated breath for the evening where they can finally reveal all to their neighbours in exchange for candy.
So have some other "kids" who want to get in on the action.
It's fair to say that many teens love getting something for nothing. Free candy? It fits the bill.
And every October 31, they fail to disappoint, showing up at the door, thrusting a bag in the direction of unwitting participants, sometimes without even uttering the agreed request -- sometimes, the words "Trick or Treat" aren't even mentioned.
Often, the shock and confusion lends itself to these kids walking away with a handful of candy and treats. After all, it's quite stunning to be asked by a 6'2" Frankenstein for candy. Most of us would oblige.
But then, there are some of us who will put their foot down and just say "no."
And how do I respond?
"Sorry. Halloween is for kids. Little kids."
It took a number of years for me to build up my courage in saying this -- after all, I didn't want to be seen as an "Ebenezer Scrooge" (I know, wrong holiday, but bear with me for argument's sake), but after being deluged year after year with more 16-18-year-olds (and older) than I could imagine, I had to take a stand.
I remember that wistful year that I turned 13, knowing full well that it would be my last year trick-or-treating. My friends and I had consulted with each other, talked it through, discussed the pros and cons of continuing the charade -- literally -- and erred on the side of caution, realizing that we were...well...too big to do it next year.
It was a sad realization and one that made that last All Hallows Eve even more special because we knew that it was the end of a tradition and, in a way, the end of our childhood as we knew it. There was an unwritten code that dictated that kids would stop asking for sweets around the times that they started becoming interested in the opposite sex, and when school dances became much more important than any other event that season. We knew in our heart of hearts that we were just too big -- both physically and mentally -- to dare ask for candy under the auspices of childhood. After all -- we were, at the same time, battling with our parents about our maturity and independence; how could participation in this very obvious vestige of childhood jive with our request to borrow the car?
Granted, adolescence is a strange mix of childhood and adulthood with those venturing through its path unsure upon which side they should fall. Some days, they're kids. Other days, they're adults. Many days, they're confused. Therein may lie the problem on October 31, though I suspect that many of these young adults who come to the door looking for candy know full well that they're leaning more towards the "grown-up" scale than not.
It's understandable that they would want to cash in on the sugar bounty that happens every October. After all -- who wouldn't? Show me a parent who hasn't tucked into the Halloween stash both before and after their child has gone trick-or-treating and I'll show you a parent who doesn't exist (those tiny chocolate bars are a major temptation).
That being said, there comes a time when one has to be honest with oneself about the realities of life and this should ideally occur before any Adult XL Frankenstein or similar costume is donned.
Leave the candies for the kiddies. The high school dance is so much more engaging.
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