Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Longing for an Old-Fashioned Halloween

by Frances Mae Renier (aka Miss Frankie)
A Piece of Cake Mysteries
by Jacklyn Brady


Lately I've noticed that my attitude about certain things indicates that I'm getting older. For instance, when I watch a show on the television and realize that I don't identify with a single one of the characters. Or when I watch an advertisement on TV and wonder why what they're showing me would ever make me want to buy their product. Here's a news flash for you: if your family cell phone plan is going to allow the whole family to pass the buck, leaving the youngest child stranded at school, I'm not going to spend money on it! 

The painful awareness that I'm no longer considered vital or important to most advertisers grows more pronounced every year. But lately I've started to realize that even Halloween is leaving me behind--and that makes me terribly sad. 

When I was a girl, Halloween was a safe, fun holiday. We had a parade at school so we could show off our costumes, not only to the other kids in our class, but to everyone! We spent half the day marching around the school admiring each other. 

Every every October 31 just before dark, all the neighborhood children rushed outside giddy with excitement that had been building for weeks. We met up in the center of the street and traveled the neighborhood in packs, going from house to house and gathering candy and treats from every house on the block. 

If we were lucky and the weather was good, we'd be allowed to branch out and visit other neighborhoods, as well. When we were very young, Mama or Daddy would trail along behind us to make sure were were safe, but as we got a little older, they just let us go with a warning to check in from time to time. 

Oh, sure, Mama and Daddy would check the candy over when we got it home to make sure there wasn't something that looked dangerous. Even then, we'd heard the rumors about bad people putting razor blades inside apples and the like. But nobody minded if the neighbor lady gave out homemade cookies--especially if they were sugar cookies frosted with delicious orange frosting! 

Sometimes there would be parties with ghoulish treats and hay bales and maybe even bobbing for apples. But the parties never took the place of trick-or-treating. They were just a bonus. 

I haven't been blessed with any grandchildren of my own, but thanks to family, friends, and neighbors, I see what's been happening to my favorite Halloween traditions. First off, I don't see the kids traipsing off to school these days in their costumes the way we used to. 

These days, there are no packs of small children wandering the neighborhoods like there used to be, no joyous cries of "Trick or Treat" as children scamper from house to house and plunge headlong across the lawn. Half the houses on the street are dark on October 31 so people have to pass them by. And I suppose that when candy safety becomes such a huge deal that some parents talk about taking the kids' haul to a hospital so it can be X-rayed, things have gone too far. Yes, there's trunk-or-treat, which is a safer alternative, I suppose. But somehow it lacks the utter joy and abandon that we used to feel when we were kids. 

And then there are the folks who refuse to acknowledge the day at all, which I personally think is a shame. But to each his own. It's not my place to tell people how they ought to celebrate, or even if they ought to. That's not what I'm saying at all. 

I suppose that it all works out in the end. Kids who don't celebrate Halloween seem to be just fine with their fall festivals, and those who have grown up without a Halloween free-for-all don't even know that they're missing something wonderful. I guess it's just those of us who remember when that get a bit sad this time of year. 


Jacklyn Brady lives on the Gulf Coast and writes the Piece of Cake Mystery series which is set in New Orleans and features cake artist and trained pastry chef, Rita Lucero.

Rebel Without a Cake, book #5 in the Piece of Cake Mystery Series, is available at your favorite bookseller now! Jacklyn loves to hear from readers. Connect with her on the web: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Picture credits: 

Jacklyn Brady: copyright Stholen Moments Photography 
Pumpkins: Denis Collette...!!! via photopin cc 
Jack O'lanterns: photo credit: mbgrigby via photopin cc 
Trick or Treat: photo credit: Almond Butterscotch via photopin cc


  1. TOTALLY, 100% agree with you!

    1. Thank you, Patricia. It's good to know that I'm not the only one who feels that way.

  2. It is so sad how weird people have gotten about something that gave us and yes... them too joy in the past.