Trick or Treat Etiquette

Oops. Sorry for no post yesterday. I moved this weekend and things are still kind of hectic. I literally just now have enough room to sit down and write (and even then, I’m on a couch using a slightly too tall accent table as a desk). But we can talk about obnoxious moving experiences later. Right now, we have a much more urgent topic to discuss.

Trick or treaters.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve grown increasingly disappointed and frustrated handing out candy each year. I don’t want to generalize an entire group of kids and teenagers, but trick or treaters… you’ve got to step up your game. Seriously, we go out and buy candy to give out for free, and you act like you don’t even give a shit. It’s not all of you; some of you are really cool and enthusiastic about dressing up and going door to door, and I can appreciate that. But a lot of you… man, where do I begin?

Say “trick or treat” and “thank you.”

You’d think trick or treaters would at least have the basic greeting down, but about a quarter of the kids I see seem to be unfamiliar with the phrase. No, extending their open bag in front of them while remaining silent seems equally appropriate through their eyes.

Not saying “trick or treat” (or even a simple “hi”) is going to make your handful of candy drop down to a single fun size. It’s rude. Like you just expect people to give you something because you showed up to the door.

And not saying “thank you” when you get candy, even if it’s not great, is just as rude. I don’t think I should have to bring up the subject of manners during Halloween, but time and experience has proven it’s something that needs to be addressed. Seriously guys, say “trick or treat” and “thank you.” There’s absolutely no reason not to.

Wear a costume.

Another thing you’d think trick or treaters would have down, but again, time and experience tell me this is something that needs addressing. Don’t go around wearing your normal clothes. You’re not a trick or treater when you’re not in costume, you’re a beggar. Remember Oscar from Hey Arnold? You know, that lazy freeloader with the stupid laugh? That’s what I see when I open the door and see someone asking for candy without a costume.

Oh, and middle school/high school trick or treaters? Wearing your football team jersey isn’t wearing a costume. That’s you wearing your football team jersey, and I assume you’re just stopping by before going to practice. At the very least, wear the whole uniform. The pants, the gloves, the mouth guard, the cleats, the helmet, all of it. At least then you can say you’re going as a football player.

And for that matter, wearing only a mask isn’t wearing a costume. That’s just you wearing a mask. Picking one up at a Halloween store on Halloween isn’t the same as planning to go out for Halloween. Oh, you’ve got a zombie mask? What are you going as? It can’t be a zombie, because your hoodie, jeans, and sneakers are all still intact. Your hands are pretty clean, too. No fake scars, blood, or anything.

I know people don’t always have access to “great” costumes, accessories, and makeup (it can be pretty expensive, after all), but at least look around your house for something. C’mon guys. Get a little creative. Put more than two minutes’ effort into dressing up.

“Am I too old to trick or treat?”

If you’re asking this question, the answer is probably yes. Trick or treating is for kids. I think teenagers can get away with it, but I think it’s more elementary and middle school focused. High schoolers, well… I don’t think it’s a problem as long as they’re in costume, but I think it’s around this time you should think about wrapping up the whole trick or treating thing.

Oh, and as a side note: “You’re never too old for free candy” is a phrase you shouldn’t be proud to say. That’s the kind of thing the unemployed 20-something-year-old says as he’s roaming the streets on Halloween night when a concerned parent asks “aren’t you a little old to be trick or treating” as they cautiously shelter their child from him.

Don’t be upset when we don’t have safe candy for your infant.

Babies aren’t the first demographic that comes to mind when it comes to Halloween. Yeah, it’s pretty cute when you dress your baby up in that pumpkin costume as you take your other kids around the neighborhood. But it’s a holiday when people give out candy. If you’re taking just your baby around, and you’re kind of iffed off that we don’t have anything safe for him or her to eat… umm… tough? I don’t want to be mean, but babies aren’t supposed to be eating candy in the first place, so maybe reconsider taking them out if you’re expecting them to eat what people are handing out.

Like I said last week, Halloween is my new favorite holiday. It’s strange how trick or treating, the custom most associated with Halloween, is the aspect I like the least. Fortunately, there aren’t many kids where I just moved to, so I don’t think I’m going to be too bothered by poor trick or treating etiquette this year. But that’s just me. Other people are still going to have to deal with the things I’ve listed, so trick or treaters, please. I’m begging you. Step up your game a little bit. Say “trick or treat.” Dress up. Be aware of who the holiday is for. And don’t forget, the kid that shows up to my house in a Pikachu costume automatically gets a bowl full of candy. Never underestimate the power of a cool costume. Happy Halloween, and BE SAFE.

Halloween

Lately Halloween’s become my new favorite holiday. There really isn’t any reason for it to be; giving out candy is a pain, I don’t go to any Halloween parties, and although the idea of wearing some kind of creepy costume sounds somewhat fun, there isn’t any event I’d attend that would call for it.

I guess this recent favoritism might have something to do with October being my favorite month. Fall is my favorite season, and October’s the only month that it really feels like fall. September still feels like summer, and although I’m almost two years out of school, I still feel anxiety in my gut when August ends. November should feel like fall, but after working retail for so many years and having Christmas shoved down my throat, it really doesn’t. And the first few weeks of December before winter officially starts… well, who the hell thinks of fall when they think of December?

But October… October’s just fine. It’s finally cool enough to feel like fall almost every day. The leaves start to change colors and actually stay on the trees for a while, instead of remaining dead on the ground. College was a constant source of anxiety for me- September always involved a huge adjustment period of returning to school life and the huge workload that followed, November was cram time as professors realized they still had half a semester’s worth of stuff to teach in one month’s time, and Thanksgiving break through the end of the semester was filled with final projects and exams. October, though… I strangely felt most at peace in October when I was in college. By then I’d usually adjusted to my new schedule and got a grasp on how I should approach my workload. There weren’t many big projects or tests that needed to be completed, just usual readings and essays. During a time when I was usually stricken with panic and overwhelming feelings, I found decent periods of contentment while I sat in various spots outside the school, wrapped up in a hoodie, listening to music, and reading whatever I was assigned while drinking a relaxing, warm cup of coffee or hot chocolate. Honestly, if I hadn’t had multiple books to read through at once within such a short time, I would have loved this time at college.

So is Halloween my new favorite holiday just because it takes place during my favorite month? Not really. I’ve come to associate Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas as the end-of-the-year holidays, and comparing Halloween to the other two easily makes it my favorite of the three. Thanksgiving and Christmas are really stressful for me. Honestly, I think they’re really stressful for a lot of people, and if disliking family-centric and cheerful holidays wasn’t looked down upon, I think more people would admit to it. Halloween doesn’t involve family, and that in and of itself makes it much more appealing to me.

Then, of course, there are the colors. Thanksgiving gets a lot of warm, gold and brown colors. Christmas seems like it should have a lot of colors, but for me all I can really notice are reds and greens. And not even fun reds and greens, but really solid burgundies and pine tree greens. Everyone usually thinks black, purple, and orange for Halloween, but I honestly see a lot of bright colors mixed in among those. There are yellows, greens, blues, all sorts of bright colors mixed in among the darker ones. They make a really great contrast against the darker colors Halloween (and to an extent, October) is usually associated with. It’s fun. It’s festive. And it isn’t stressful.

It’s a shame Halloween is more of a kid’s holiday. Like I mentioned, there’s not really anything for an adult unless you’re invited or throwing an adult Halloween party. (But is that really a thing, or just something you see people do in movies?) Still, people decorate their houses and stores with decorations, and it’s nice to take it all in when you’re out walking in the world. And there’s always movies, TV specials, books, and video games that you can partake in. I’ve been replaying The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask for the past few weeks, and it’s certainly putting me in a Halloween mood. I’m moving during the next week or two, so I’ll probably be busy unpacking stuff on Halloween anyway, but I’d really like to do something for it. I think I’ll try looking for some cool Halloween related stuff to watch.

Change Is Scary

Hey! I’m moving soon! Hey! I’m not handling it well! Hey! I suppose now’s a good time to talk about change.

CHANGE (pronounced in an unpleasant, hesitant, through clenched teeth kind of way) is something a lot of people struggle with, including me. Absolutely including me. I don’t view the word “change” as neutral or context sensitive. (And to those ready to say, “well what about when you change a tire or change into your pajamas: please don’t be that person. We all know what we mean by “change” right now.)

To me, change is bad. Most people don’t normally think of the word “change” during positive events. “I started dating an amazing person!” isn’t viewed as a positive change, but instead as dating an amazing person. “I broke up with an amazing person,” however, is viewed as change. We think of the horrible ways this change affects us. No more cuddling. No more emotional support. No more love. I don’t need to explain the reasons why this change sucks, do I? I think you guys are smart enough to fill in your own answers.

I think by default, the concept of things changing is negatively viewed. Maybe it’s just me, I don’t know. But that word seems to swim through my head more frequently when negative things start impacting my life. I don’t want to sound like I’m promoting the idea of things staying the same in a closed off bubble world for all eternity, but when something shitty happens and it in no way makes your life better, I think it’s a little unrealistic to believe the positive person that continues insisting that “change is good.”

I get that the pro-change crowd is only trying to help when they say this to people suffering because of change. Yeah, okay guys. I get it. I appreciate the effort into making us feel better. Please try to see things from our perspective, though. Those that have been affected by change, especially those that have difficulty talking about how hard it’s been for them, really really don’t need to be told that change can be a good thing. It feels like you’re writing us off, like you’re saying the problems change has brought us aren’t really affecting us. If you really want to help, the best way is by understanding our position and trying to be there for us. You don’t need to solve our problems, you don’t need to try fixing us, you just need to be there for us.

That being said…

There is… a certain… truth… in what they say (also spoken in an unpleasant, hesitant, through clenched teeth kind of way).

Oh, and believe me, I don’t want to admit that. I really, really don’t want to admit that. I’m still for my stance on change being a negative thing.

But when something negative changes your life… sometimes there’s something else that happens as a side effect. Sometimes. Not all the time. But sometimes.

All right, here’s an example. After my first semester of college, my best friend stopped talking to me. She was going to school in a different state, she stopped answering her phone, she stopped responding to E-mails, she basically disappeared. There was no warning, there was no closure, and it left me feeling abandoned. How else was I supposed to feel? The person who, throughout the entirety of high school, I’d talked to every day, confided in, made inside jokes with, and unfortunately, had feelings for, just disappeared. Had I done something? Was I not good enough to be friends with anymore? Did the knowledge of my feelings for her ultimately make her not want to deal with me anymore? Well, I’ll never know. I convinced myself that she was better than me and I didn’t deserve her as a friend, and that I did deserve to be given up on.

Fast forward a few years later. One of my friends from a creative writing workshop introduced me to another one of his friends. He eventually had to go, but me and her continued talking for hours. We clicked instantly. She said we should meet around campus and hang out more often. We exchanged numbers and each day that we were on campus with one another, we sat and talked. We talked for hours. If I wasn’t in class, I was either waiting for her to get out of class or actually hanging out with her. We texted each other at night, and we eventually started calling each other more frequently too. One night we talked for six hours. For the first time in years, I felt like I had an actual best friend again. It felt like I was making some substantial progress with my life, which for the longest time, felt stuck in time.

The best part was that both of us felt comfortable enough to open up to each other with unresolved issues from our pasts. She was the first person to really care and try helping me with my issues involving my best friend from high school. I told her everything that happened. I was a completely open book. She was the one that helped me realize I’d been bottling everything up for years. She was the one that convinced me to try therapy. She was going and it was really helping her. She made me aware of the wellness center at my college. She became an extremely important and essential part of my life, and I’d only known her for a couple of months.

Well, sometime during winter break she stopped answering my texts. I didn’t think anything of it at first, but when a week went by and she didn’t even try getting back to me, I started to panic. Memories of trying to talk to my best friend from high school started overflowing from the bottle I’d corked them all in. I was terrified the same thing was going to happen again. After years of trying to find another friend to have that kind of connection with, I’d finally found one, and as each day went by, the realization that the same thing was about to happen again kept washing over me. Only this time it hurt more. The first time allowing myself to form a friendship like this since high school, and it ended in the exact same way. And she knew how much that kind of ending affected me, too. No, this time was definitely worse.

I didn’t handle it well. I don’t remember what I started texting her when I tried getting in touch, but I’m sure it wasn’t anything that would make her start wanting to talk to me again. Don’t get me wrong, with both this girl and my former best friend, I was by no means always easy to deal with. But to go from what we had to simply not speaking for no reason… I mean, I don’t know. I didn’t handle it well, but I think I deserved a reason for why they did what they did.

As you can imagine, I had a lot to talk about when I returned to therapy once school resumed in the spring. I viewed the entire loss as an unneeded change. I felt like I was finally moving forward. After years of trying, I’d not only made a close friend, but… well… a friend. People came into and out of my life with each semester and no one really hung around long enough to form a friendship with. The change with this girl only brought me down to my lowest emotional point I’d as yet experienced. What did it do for me? What good came out of this? How, in any way, shape, or form, was this good?

Well… therapy came out of it. I needed it, and eventually the bottle I’d stored all my feelings in was going to burst at some point. Do I feel like I needed the loss of another close friend to start the healing process? No. Do I feel like there was a better, less painful way to acknowledge I have issues and to seek proper help for them? Yes.

But the fact is, this whole thing happened. And therapy, and thus this long, not even close to finished road to recovery began. It was a side effect from change.

I’m still not saying this change was positive, even if it may have been… needed, for lack of a better word. There must have been better ways to get to where I am now. I’m just saying sometimes, when looking at the bigger picture… I don’t know. Sometimes there are some side effects to change that may be, what the pro-change crowd, would consider… good.

I hope that made sense. Telling this story took a lot more out of me than I thought. Drawing cats and toast is definitely easier.

Hang in there.