Klues: Lessons to be learned about why Halloween is still great


Halloween at Maureen's house in 1989 | Photo courtesy of Maureen Klues

What is great about Halloween is that it hits pretty much every phase of your life. 

Growing up in the Midwest, who doesn’t love a crisp day with swirling fall leaves? Every movie with a spooky backdrop pretty much looks like it was made down the street from us. I was watching “The Curse of Bridge Hollow” with my son and he said, “Hey, that looks like our neighborhood.”

How do those who live in the tropics enjoy this holiday? I would really like to know. We once took a cruise over Christmastime, and I don’t care how many holiday decorations were thrown all over the ship or how much Bing Crosby was pumped out through the speakers. It didn’t feel like the holidays. Not one bit.

My youngest is right on the line of not trick-or-treating anymore. He has reached the “throw on a scary mask phase” and trample past the cute little princesses and Spidermans with a huge pillowcase slung over a shoulder that he will cram full of candy.

Here is why I’m OK with that. 

Halloween Lesson No. 1: You are Never Too Old to Trick or Treat

I went trick-or-treating with my best friend in the sixth grade — the same age as my youngest. We dressed up as volleyball players, which was easy as we just wore our actual volleyball uniforms. We were having a good time until we stopped at a house and the lady handing out the candy looked at my friend, then looked at me and said, “Aren’t you a little old to be trick-or-treating?”

My friend and I were the same age. I just happened to be a head and a half taller than her. Of course, I didn’t say anything. Instead, I slunk off with my shoulders down. The joy of trick or treating was gone. With that one comment, I was done. 

No matter how tall someone is or how old they might be, let them enjoy dressing up and give them some darn candy. Wouldn’t you rather them do that than smash your pumpkins or throw eggs on your house?

Halloween Lesson No. 2: Halloween Sleepovers Are the Worst

My siblings and I were not allowed to watch really scary movies when we were growing up. All bets were off during a sleepover, however. I will never forget going to a sleepover around Halloween, and my friend had rented a pile of all the best scary movies starring Chucky, Freddy and Jason.

About the time the third “Nightmare on Elm Street” VHS was popped in, everyone started dozing off … except for me. Since Freddy Krueger got you in your dreams, I considered it very unwise to fall asleep. Instead, I stared (with horror) at the screen and watched all the way through the credits as everyone else slept in a peaceful slumber. 

When I returned home in a crabby mood, my mom threatened the end of sleepovers, never knowing the sleepless night of torture I endured. 

One of Maureen’s kids during Halloween. | Photo courtesy of Maureen Klues

Halloween Lesson No. 3: Taking Toddlers Trick-or-Treating is the Best

The sweet spot for taking kids trick-or-treating is when they are a baby or toddler. At this phase of the parenting game, you are going to be pushing a stroller. Toddlers will insist on walking to maybe two houses, and then they are happy to just eat sugar while you roll them up and down driveways and they turn on their cute smiles just long enough to hold out their bag and then collapse back into the stroller until their next performance. 

A bonus: They have no concept of how much candy they got, so it is pretty much your candy. If it disappears, they won’t even notice. You can dump out the candy on the carpet when you get home and spread it out just like when you were a kid, and all the good candy is yours. 

Halloween Lesson No. 4: Keep a Close Eye on Your Keys

When my son was about 3 years old, he locked me out of the house on Halloween while trick-or-treaters were coming to our door for candy. I went outside for a minute, the door slammed behind me and locked, and I heard manic laughing and saw a little devil jumping on the couch through the window. 

My son was wearing a devil costume, shoving candy in his mouth and completely ignoring me banging on the front door. Luckily, I had my cell phone on me, and 20 minutes later (after giving about 20-odd explanations to those who attempted to trick-or-treat at our house), my parents arrived with a toolbox to pry the front window open so I could climb back in and reclaim my home. 

I couldn’t find my keys to go to work the next morning. Again, I called my parents after an exhaustive search. Within five minutes my mom found my keys buried under candy in my son’s plastic pumpkin.

Not much beats taking the kids to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. | Photo courtesy of Maureen Klues

Family Memories

Halloween is all about family memories. I have never been known for dressing up as an adult and going out to parties, because it is all about the traditions I have had since I was a kid. Nothing was better than getting my costume ready to go while my mom made warm bowls of chili before we ventured out into the cold or the rain. My memories of a warm Halloween were few and far between.

If you don’t come back with rosy cheeks and chattering teeth, is it even Halloween?

Once I had my own kids, it became all about taking them to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Grandma was dressed as a witch, and Grandpa said, “And who do we have here?” as he grabbed his camera and my mom held out the witch’s book for the kids to open. We might have one more year of this, or this might be the year that we are finally at home handing out our own candy.

Halloween is the best way to document your childhood and the childhood of your kids and grandkids. You know you will have at least one Halloween picture each year. Maybe that is why Halloween is so great. It is one of the few things that remains constant in our lives. 

Fall and winter are packed full of nostalgia. Memories surround us. When I see the leaves falling off the trees and swirling around, it always reminds me of all the memories we have in life.

Memories swirl around and past us sometimes, just out of reach, and then a certain smell or sound brings it right back to you. Reach out and grab the leaves before they blow away. Grab on to the good ones. It won’t be long until Charlie Brown says, “Well, another Halloween has come and gone.”

Maureen’s brother standing next to pumpkins covered in snow during a Halloween long ago. | Photo courtesy of Maureen Klues

Maureen Klues writes occasionally for Muddy River News. She recently started Memoirs by Maureen in the Quincy area. She will capture the story of an event, a story of one’s life or create a tribute for a person and put it together in a storybook format.

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