Teaching Children Dumpster Diving

Previously posted from archives Halloween 2010

Since Halloween fell on Sunday Utahns fell into their default passive aggressive celebratory style. Traditionalists celebrated Saturday, independents Sunday and the rest of us both nights. Fracturing the holiday made what is already evident blatant and I’d like to kick something in disappointment.

First, I’ll kick a car trunk. Maybe the ghoul who started the insidious introduction to dumpster diving techniques to innocent children, usually in church parking lots, had good intentions, but I think it was just a lazy afraid parent. Too lazy to walk with their children, too afraid of five feet tall middle age women like me who don’t get to see enough children and community happiness.

Next, maybe I’ll kick the independents who bowed to pressure and sent their kids out Saturday. I won’t kick hard because they at least sent them out to knock on neighborhood doors and see that people in surrounding houses are normal looking, smile at them and are happy to encourage a sugar high and tooth decay.

Last, I’ll have to kick myself. I went to a late Saturday afternoon movie and an early dinner, saying, “This isn’t Halloween.” Home before eight o’clock, I’d missed whatever flurry of trick or treaters there had been. We heard there were two and we got two so four children walked our street. Sunday not a one came though we turned on the light, lit the grinning pumpkin and opened the curtains. I don’t know what to do with the full size candy bars I’ve got. Since we moved here almost fifteen years ago the numbers have dropped from around a hundred.

Yes, I could participate in the trunk events where over-excited children collect 10,000 useless calories and expend 100 calories running from car to car while parents often ignore them and talk to each other. Yes, I could peacefully accept the changing of tradition. I have tired of restating my objection that pagan based Easter egg rolling or wanton gift unwrapping on Christmas is just as celebratory and fun on a Sunday as neighborhood strolling for candy.

And yes, they could accept that it might be a healthy fun walk through the neighborhood to observe neighbors and see for themselves there are good people capable of generosity to their children who live behind the usually closed doors.

I concede to my husband who says of parents of young children, “You don’t do much but you’re damn busy.” My disappointment, I know, is selfish. I want my middle class neighborhood to feel safe, walkable and a place to share traditions with the people who live here and I wonder why others don’t.

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