One of the few episodes of the excellent FREAKS AND GEEKS that I actually caught on TV was their Halloween show. It captures the death of the classic version of the holiday, both for one family and for society at large.
Travel with me, back, back, back, before the giant Spirit stores that pop up in September and vanish November 1 like mushrooms, before the boom industry of pre-packaged Slutty Cinderella and Slutty Ninja and Slutty Napoleon Dynamite costumes.
We're at around 1980 now. You with me?
The show's mom loves Halloween. Dresses up, decorates the house, makes homemade treats for the goblins that ring the doorbell.
This year, though, the younger kid decides he's too old to go trick or treating. The older girl doesn't want to stay home with mom, but wants to hang with her friends. The goblins throw away the treats because their parents fear that they could be poisoned.
The look of sadness and loss on the mom's face is heartbreaking, because not only are her children growing up too fast for her, she can see the end of something fanciful and connecting, mysterious, silly, to be shared with your family.
Flash forward to now, where surely in some neighborhoods the goblins still appear on the front stoop, going home to carefully sort through the candy to avoid the razor blades and syringes and anthrax powder, but not in mine.
The kids trick or treat at school, in the mall, at their parents' offices. Places well lit and clinical and utterly free of that wonderful frisson of being out after dark and talking to strangers! It was scary-but-not-really, because mom or dad was always behind you, curbside, with the flashlight.
This year, we got a grand total of two goblins the whole night, a very shy fairy and her bolder pirate sister, bless her little pillaging heart.
Leftover candy isn't worth it.