October 7, 2009 Edition

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Halloween offers
great fun for kids

Sandra Graham
Guest Columnist

We have just a short time to prepare for the 'Goblin Swarm' to swoop through the neighborhood with an onslaught of miniature Freddys and Jasons and Darth Vaders and Princess Barbies and any number of other characters that turn out for this celebration of All Hallows Eve.

My four-year-old grandson just called me with his third decision about who he was going to be - now it is Jack from the "Nightmare Before Christmas" as opposed to his earlier selections of a police officer and Jason. There are just too many fantastic costumes to choose from, but isn't it great fun!

I remember my first Halloween with my oldest granddaughter - she was two at the time. She was too young to care what costume she wore, so it was easy to just put a pair of black jeans on her with a gray hoodie that had little mouse ears and a tail. Draw a black spot on her nose, a few whiskers and we were off to the mall.

The only problem we had was keeping her in line to receive the goodies handed out at each store. So Grannie was relegated to bag carrier while Papa kept track of our little mouse. Her idea of trick-or-treating consisted of strutting around looking too cute for words and showing off for anyone who would look - made for great video material! I have since transferred it to CD to save for the next hundred generations to view.

Halloween has changed much over the last 50 years. When I was a kid, we didn't worry much (actually the kids never worried at all and parents worried but little) about candy with pins and needles secreted through the wrappers, broken razor blades, rat poison and all other sick forms of deviant additives that people can concoct.

I traversed the dark streets of St. Louis with eight to 10 other kids and we never lost a goblin and never received any bad candy. Was it pure luck or have the times really changed so drastically? I'm afraid that our times have changed, and for the worse.

Gone are the days when we could allow our kids to roam the neighborhood alone to do their trick-or-treating. Now if you want your kids to dress up in their costumes and chant their "Trick-or-Treat!"s, you take them to houses that have the lights on and Halloween decorations on the porch and you know the occupants well.

You can take your kids to the malls where the stores give out treats, and you can be fairly sure the treats can be trusted. Many churches now have trick or treat festivities in the church parking lots so that children can be assured of a safe and wholesome fun night. If you don't fully trust the candy your children have collected throughout the night, there are hospitals that do free x-ray exams of the candy.

Halloween is definitely a children's holiday. I know that in the beginning it had a much more perverse theme, but over the years it has mellowed to become one that is great fun for the kids.

So, for that reason, at my house we continue to put up the Halloween decorations, keep all the walks and entrances well lit throughout the night and have huge bowls of candy on tables beside each entrance. We love children and enjoy making their little games as safe and enjoyable as we possibly can.

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