So it's Halloween this weekend and I had my first Trick or Treater at the door last night. These Trick or Treaters are getting older. He looked about 15. Seriously. In a scary mask. I thought I was a goner, but he accepted my offer of a bag of Haribo and left quietly. Maybe it's an offshot of the credit crunch - grown adults are now going out and asking for food at other people's houses. I will not mock this, because having just received a letter from Phoenix saying that my monthly gas bill is going up from £51 to £73 (yes, that's about a 50% increase, when last year I was £4 in credit at the end of the year), in the same month that my housemate is moving out and when I don't have a job, I may be going round the doors myself one of these evenings.
Anyway, I was reflecting on attitudes to Halloween, and Trick or Treaters. I'm not a massive fan of Halloween; it's easily my least favourite time of the year: dark nights, cold, no daylight for another 6 months, scary masks, bonfires, fireworks - it's like they took everything I hate and stuck it all in one festival, although they did reserve the carols for later in the year. Then there's the Christian viewpoint, for Halloween is, of course, decidedly dodgy from that perspective. So I dislike Halloween immensely, but I could live with it as long as I didn't have to participate: this, of course, is where Trick or Treaters come in, because you have to do something when the doorbell goes, even if it's just switching out the lights and hiding behind the sofa.
Having lived with a number of people over the years, I have observed a range of responses to trick or treaters:
1. Pay them to get rid of them. This was particularly popular when we lived on the Donegall Road, opposite (allegedly) the leader of the Red Hand Commandoes. When someone came to your house and asked for something, you gave it to them, even if they were a 6-year-old girl.
2. Go with the spirit of things and reward them handsomely. One of my housemates used to give them a pound each. An entire pound. And this was about 7 years ago, when a pound was a pound. Needless to say, this ended with the entire neighbourhood (including, I always suspected, a good number of parents & grandparents) wearing scary masks on our doorstep for about a month.
3. Despise them. The housemate who took this approach described Trick or Treating as 'tantamount to begging', and was perpetually outraged for the entire build up to Halloween night. I would quietly slip them a mini Mars when she wasn't looking.
My own approach, as stated above, is Haribo. This has several benefits:
1. They're cheap (£1 for 10 mini-bags in Iceland)
2. They're wrapped up, so easy to distribute to gangs
3. You can eat the leftovers afterwards
Incidentally, particularly good costumes (home made, involving more than just a mask, or with teddies dressed up as well) get 2 bags.
So, if you know where I live, and you fancy some Haribo, get your mask on and come round...