I have fond memories of Halloween growing up in the South and the Midwest. My mom would walk my sister and me up to a house and we would knock and say those 3 words that are associated with Halloween, “Trick or Treat.” Those are great memories. Because those memories are so strong and warm, I couldn’t wait to take my kids Trick or Treating once they reached that age. Yes, I said that age. Don’t get me started on parents that take their babies Trick or Treating when everyone knows full well who is getting that candy. (At least I hope the baby isn’t eating the candy.)
The thing is, I live in New York City now and trick or treating is a lot different in our neighborhood in Astoria. There are no drive ways or porch lights to welcome those that choose to dress up for the occasion. There are mostly apartment buildings and people hardly know their neighbors at all, let alone hand out free candy to them. That might possibly require people to get to know each other.
Instead of going house to house, in Astoria, the children parade up and down the main streets and the local neighborhood establishments hand out candy to the costumed children. My first few Halloweens with the kids, I felt like something was missing – that I wasn’t getting to know my neighbors the way my family did growing up. One time, on the way to the main street, we stopped at my elderly neighbors’ house so the kids could show them their costumes and my daughter said “Trick or treat” before I could clarify that we were doing a courtesy visit. Since they didn’t have any candy, the couple gave my kids a dollar each. We walked away with happy kids and an embarrassed dad.
But I have come to embrace New York’s style of Trick or Treating. While I don’t share the holiday with my neighbors as I did growing up, it has been fun getting to know the owners and employees of the bodegas, supermarkets, and restaurants.
So this year, my two older kids and even the baby will dress up and stroll from store to store, piling up candy as we go along. And I’ll decline when people offer my baby some sweets, except when we stop by the local Dunkin Donuts. I’ll gladly eat the free munchkins.