"Can we go trick or treating this year, Daddy?" says my five-year-old son, Isaac. My heart sinks.
It sinks because I hate Halloween. I'm the Scrooge of Halloweens. Some of my fondest childhood memories consist of lying on the lounge floor next to my dad pretending not to be in as the door is knocked by a thousand different children all after one thing: sweets. And, if you didn't give them sweets, you got your doors egged.
Come to think of it, most of my Halloween-related memories are quite negative. There was the time I dressed up as a vampire for a fancy dress party. In order to stand out, and to terrify the kids, I bought some cheap novelty cat-eye lenses from the Internet – something which ranks in my list of top 10 things I'd never do again. I spent the whole time looking like I was sobbing my eyes out, tears streaming down my cheeks and streaking my make-up as I slowly lost the use of my corneas.
In the following years, not to be seen as a completely miserable old grump, I opened the door to trick-or-treaters and begrudgingly held out a bucket of sweets, from which they took one or two handfuls of candy. (I thought you were only meant to take one sweet, but whatever.)
I would have been more than happy to give away sweaty palmfuls of Parma Violets if the costumes had even the slightest amount of thought put into them - but newsflash, child: wearing a Scream mask does not constitute a good costume, nor does rubbing a bit of flour in your hair.
Anyway, whinge over.
As parents we often do things we don't want to for the sake of our children: being a human horse, kicked around the living room floor by a son who wants you to gallop; sitting through Shrek for the billionth time; and now, it seems, going trick or treating.
For my children, Halloween is an exciting time of pumpkin faces, scary outfits, and sweets. Lots of sweets. So many sweets, in fact, that they spend the next three hours wildly bouncing off the walls like human pinballs.
So it will be with slumped shoulders, then, that this year I'll be traipsing my two boys up and down our street, knocking on doors and shivering in the cold.
But we're doing it slightly differently this year in that we're not going to every house on our street, and we've pre-warned the people who we are visiting of our impending arrival.
Why? Because we know that there are some miserly old grumps on our road, like me, who will answer the door with a sour face – or not answer at all. And I don't want to see the look on my kids' faces when it fades from hopeful excitement to eye-opening disappointment as the door remains unopened and they trudge back down the path.
And so we have gone full circle, and I find myself feeling guilty that just a few years ago I was that stodgy old miser who refused to open his door, or reluctantly handed out sweets with a face like sour milk.
I ask you then, when someone knocks on your front door and excitedly squeals 'trick or treat' through the letterbox to happily hand over as many sweets as they can grab – even if their costume consists of an old pillowcase with eyeholes. After all, it won't be you who has to deal with the sugar crash.
Are you going trick or treating? Do you enjoy it - or is it purely for the kids?
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