Archive for the 'Guest Post' Category

29
Oct
13

Guest Post: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

When I started this blog I said there might be some guest posts down the road.

Here’s the first one, written by my good friend Bill Maxwell. A California native I knew back in my Los Angeles days, Bill’s a man of many talents, mostly involving writing though occasionally running role playing games.

He once ran a horror game which gave my wife nightmares.

He’s written screenplays, books, gaming manuals—you name it, he’s done it.

Bill’s first novel Shadowpath is a combination of horror and fantasy in an urban setting which follows Dr. Elisabeth Frost, an author who has spent her life writing about crimes with an occult flavor to them who suddenly finds herself at the center of one.

You can check out what else Bill is up to at his blog.

Many thanks to Bill for this Halloween themed post.

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No. Not Christmas

That other time when whole neighborhoods dress their houses up in seasonal fair, as the world whips itself into an astonishing array of colors and the coming winter winds just start to nip and bite. Just a little bit.

Ah, Halloween. How I love you.

So, here I am, proud parent of 3 lovely children speaking with a friend of mine—a talented teacher–about the hallows of eve, and she imparts to me this testimonial.

“Last year I turned off my lights because I was tired of what I was putting up with after spending money I didn’t have on bags of candy that were done well before 9pm. While I was sitting home with the lights off, I overheard families disappointed that so many lights were out. Maybe parents are just clueless how rude they are being? Maybe we need to remind people that we don’t all have kids. We do this as a favor because it was done for us.”

I was appalled – not at her, for her love of Halloween matches mine, but for how a wonderful autumn ritual has descended from a lovely tradition to a bizarre sugar-themed scavenger hunt of epic proportions.

With that in mind, with humility and respect (and a shot of holiday hard cider), we humbly submit 7 ways ones to improve on the Holiday Experience.

1. Stop the Drop and Dash

So, you’ve got a street full of excited, sugar-hyped kids, zipping back and forth across the streets, looking for treat-filled prizes. Do you know what’s the opposite-of-safe? How about cars stopping and lurching forward every few feet.

Yes, we’ve seen this – the parents who dump their kids off at a house, have them run up, terrorize the owner and then jump back in. Not only does it make it less safe for all the walkers, it takes away from the community tradition.

Go walk the neighborhood. Get to know people. After all, these people are helping sugar up the kids. At least know who to blame. 😉

2. Do We Really Need Howlers?

We all understand Halloween is exciting for everyone involved, but, really, knock once, ring the bell once. If you’ve got a kid who needs to stand on the porch and, in the first 30 seconds, starts to howl, pound the door, and starts slamming down the doorbell like it’s a personal affront, you might need to cut down the caffeine.

We really don’t want to have to come to the door with a loaded fire extinguisher, because that is an option.

The same applies to the kid who tries to grab fistfuls of treats. Yes, some kids have problems with patience or boundaries but that’s why the adults are with them, to monitor the little darlings so the fire extinguisher stays tucked in the kitchen where it belongs.

3. Your Baby Eats What?

First off, I LOVE your baby! That costume is soooo cute! But, um, why does your baby need candy? They’re not even done breastfeeding yet and you – the adult– are trying to score them a Mars Bar? Something is wrong here. Let us coo and compliment your baby and let it go at that.

4. You are Not a Teen Dream

So, this is something that has happened. Teens, door, backpacks, no costume; expectations are they say the magic words and they get treats.

Really?

We’re going to fill your backpack so you can torment your teacher tomorrow with crinkled candy wrappers thrown at friends and the inevitable sugar high?!?

C’mon. At least work for it.

Two years ago, when some costumed teens showed up, they were made to dance. The requested dances were tough and they thought it was funny and totally fair.

Trick-or-treat. It’s that or we start handing out handfuls of rocks.

5. You’re How Old?

Parenting in a costume, kind of awesome. Showing up tipsy, without kids, with only various parts of a costume AND expecting candy will get you a call to 911.

Seriously.

Showing off is fine. Being the example is fine. We’re going to say your costume rocks (if it does) but we’re not offering up the candy we’re saving for the elementary and middle school kids. You’ve got incredible Halloween parties you can go to; they’ve just got us and the other candy-laden households.

Now, I did see one year, as a trick-or-treater, a house done up as a horror theater (they were actually playing Frankenstein on a massive projection screen outside). For adults, they were actually offering a brew to costumed adults without children. The adult was then welcome to go sit down and watch the movie. That’s a little bit of amazing right there. Go hang out at that house.

6. Respect the Power of the Trade

A parent wanders up to the door, kid in tow. The magic words are spoken by the kid–“Trick or Treat”–and suddenly, the parent dives their hand into the bucket. Now, as you’re looking on in delayed horror while they dig through everything, they announce their child is gluten-free, gmo-antagonistic, vegan, non-peanut eating, allergic-to-air and you MUST have something for them.

Well, no. Actually we don’t.

This isn’t a new problem. Back when we were kids, Jenny hated taffies, Frank said cinnamon candy made him sneeze and nobody likes the homemade granola treats. Everyone loved the chocolate.

What we did was simple. When we got back to home base (whichever friend was hosting that year), we laid out our spread and –traded–. If that didn’t work, we’d do the same the next day with a new batch of friends. Or at school for the next week. If that didn’t work, we’d keep the stash in a little jar for that time when kids ran out of candy about a month later and we’d trade then.

It’s a powerful tool in –how to get what we want by working with others– and it teaches the child to be grateful for what they got, not something mysterious which might be in there later. There was one time a parent was proactive and actually blanketed the neighborhood with a request for treats his kid could eat. That’s okay too – it builds community.

And having proposed the above, fair parents who still want to dig, we’ll be adding a mouse trap to the bottom of the bucket, just for you diggers.

It is called ‘Trick’ or Treat for a reason.

7. Say Thank You

It’s a small, simple thing and it goes a long way. It also teaches kids about gratitude, which is a nice sideline. My kids take hand decorates notes, which are a hit every single year with the adults giving out candy.

That’s it. Seven simple rules for Trick or Treaters. Stay safe, scare well and may your Halloween be the most favorite time of the year




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Reading: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher Listening to: The Heist, Macklemore Watching: Damages