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Halloween scrooges need to get spooked

Shhh. Do you hear that? It’s the sound of a light breeze blowing through your neighborhood’s bare, leafless trees. The scent of the dried leaves crunching underfoot fills the air, and the waning gibbous moon lights the sky, but not enough so that what darkness there is isn’t still a bit eerie.

The sight of the moon shining through the bare trees provides, for me at least, a good deal of the eeriness, except for when it’s shining through those trees that have had their centers cut out to accommodate infringing power lines. There’s nothing scary about that, just ugly.

Front house lights are beginning to light up, illuminating front yards and helping pick up the moon’s slack. There’s a bit of a chill in the air, and with any luck it’s not raining. Rain can be disastrous to the activities that are planned for this night, because that means those activities will yield all the action to the halls of Oak Park Mall.

This night is one that kids look forward to almost as much as they do their next couple hours in front of their video game system. Before long they will be running around the house on a sugar high that will last as long as their new bag of treats does. Dentists will have dollar signs in their eyes, and what candy remains on store shelves will be half price, making it easier for parents to extend that sugar high indefinitely.

One way or another, my front light will be one of those that will be on. I love Halloween. I get a bang out of the variety of creatures that come to my door, which is why I’m torn every year between going trick or treating with my own kids, who are a little older now, or staying behind to avoid being one of those houses with an unlit front light.

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When I was a kid we always had a resounding boo for those houses, and not the scary kind; the kind you hand out when you watch the Vikings’ offense. We didn’t understand that those people were probably out with their own kids, we just knew they weren’t participating. I get that now, but I still know some people who either leave for a couple hours or just keep their light off and don’t participate.

To this all I can say is, "Come on people, get in the spirit!" Who wouldn’t want to see these adorable little creatures that come to your door, the sweet little impediments with which some of them utter the words "trick or treat," and how they always have to be reminded by their watchful parents to say thank you before waddling off next door.

My theory is that the Halloween scrooges are probably only that way because of the frustration that has resulted from years of not being able to come up with a good costume idea. It’s easy to just give up and chalk it up to Halloween being just for kids.

Fortunately, I know a lot more people who actually become kids themselves on Halloween than I know scrooges. If you have any good childhood memories of Halloween at all, you know what it’s all about. It’s all about being scared while knowing there’s no danger, and it’s all about treats. It’s all about fun. Let’s not deny them or ourselves that.

Shhh. Did you hear that? It’s the sound of a light knock on your front door because your front light is switched on. Answer the door and see what scary little creature is there to spook you. Trick or treat!

Jeff Reinartz is a lifelong Austin resident. His column appears Fridays. Send comments to news@postbulletin.com.

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