Well, it’s Halloween. And while the rest of you are dressing your children up and making up their faces, I’ll be putting the finishing touches on the popcorn and popping something really scary into the DVD player. Aaahhhh. And eating LOTS of candy — all carefully selected and handpicked. And I’m okay with it all. I. Have. Made. My. Decision. I suppose it helps tremendously that the child in question has a cold and wouldn’t have made a very good trick-or-treater anyway. And the mom-in-question has a headache, brought on by the gifted child’s math problem that took her 3 hours and several e-mails and instant messages to solve — A BIG FAT THANKS TO WIL for making life much simpler for me.

I know it’s no big thing and certainly no surprise that the Christmas decorations are already supplanting the Halloween ones, but every year this happens, and it makes me nuts. I mean, obviously, we’re rushing the holidays, rushing the season. We’ve skipped through the year only to make Christmas last two months. But this affects me on a much deeper, much more personal, intimate level. I’m. Not. Done. Paying. Off. Last. Year’s. Credit. Card. Bill. I mean, geez! But I’m not going to launch into my Christmas diatribe until at least November 15. I mean, why rush it? I’ve got plenty to complain about before then.

Back when I lived in a real neighborhood (as opposed to a pasture), Halloween was a blast. This was Pre-K (pre-kids), and hubby and I decorated the house, got tons of candy, and waited for the little goblins to ring the doorbell. But things started to change, and rather quickly. The kids got bigger, ruder, greedier. The bell started ringing with more frequency, and I noticed the same kids (teens) returning time and again for more. They would leave candy wrappers on my lawn. The “adults” with the group would encourage the “kids” to “dig down in there, get you some more.” After about an hour of this, I realized that these kids were (1) not kids, (2) not from my neighborhood, and (3) were not going to get any more of my candy, dammit. I turned off the porch light and called it a night. And I was so sad. Sad because Halloween had been such a great holiday when I was a kid. We walked almost the entire town. We ate homemade popcorn balls and caramel apples without thinking twice about what might be in them. We were invited into people’s homes by the scariest of witches and the most wicked of goblins. And later that evening, when we were lugging bags equaling our body weight home, we were spent. Spent from running through the streets of my little hometown without a care in the world.

It’s different now, sure. It’s not as safe, in some places, to run through the streets without a care. But it’s different in, well, a different way. Now there are warnings about tainted candy, horror stories about the bad guys out there, or people that say Halloween should not be celebrated at all. Not to mention the moms who bribe their kids to stay home. Oops.

Happy Halloween to you and all your ghosts and goblins.