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NPR Arts & Life

Attention, Neighborhood Children! A Halloween Invitation

These aren't my actual neighborhood children. These are just examples of how happy my neighborhood children could be.
These aren't my actual neighborhood children. These are just examples of how happy my neighborhood children could be.

Welcome, all you ghosts and goblins! Welcome, all you cats and princesses! Welcome, Iron Man Under That Down Jacket! Welcome, Werewolf Whose Mom Is On The Phone!

I am pleased to see you at my door. I welcome always the young people in whose vicinity I reside, provided they are not so old that they pause before picking up their candy to put down a lit cigarette, which really happened to my parents once. (I will be using that anecdote in my upcoming book, Signs That You Have Outgrown Trick-Or-Treating.)

I know you expect every opened door to reveal a bag of Snickers bars or a plastic pumpkin filled with wee bags of M&Ms that you can later spread out on your bed, sort, argue over, try in vain to keep your parents from stealing after you fall asleep, and eventually allow to grow stale in the bottom of a Target bag.

But this is not that house. This is not that Halloween. Because I care. I caretoo much for Snickers bars. I care too much for Sweet Tarts. I care too much for Nerds. (I do actually care too much for nerds; my therapist would tell you that. Hiyo! But anyway, back to Halloween.) I care so much that I want to give of myself. I want to give of my possessions. I want to give, give, give.

I know you are accustomed to people who don't provide candy giving you something dull and unamusing, like pennies. Pennies! Of what use are pennies to an imaginative elf such as you? They are of no use at all. You need adventure. You need excitement.

You need Canadian change.

As it happens, I was recently in Toronto, a fine city in which Canadian money is surprisingly common. I returned home with previous souvenirs that say things like "ONE DOLLAR" and "TEN CENTS" on them. Into each of your bags will go a special treat that will remind you of our neighbor to the north. Your imagination will open to William Shatner and the CBC; to hockey and poutine.

You may also fear that I will make the worst possible feint in the direction of health by giving you the dreaded tiny box of raisins. Lamentable tiny box of raisins! It is always dried out and miserable; you always wind up scraping dried stems from under your fingernails.

I will not give you the tiny box of raisins. Oh, no. I will give you a handful of loose raisins from my personal supply! These are the same raisins I enjoy myself! They are very good raisins! I have about half a box!

If you are not fond of raisins, perhaps you are a scientist. Perhaps you like adventure! Perhaps you enjoy, as they say, "tinkering" with "gizmos"! As it happens, I have a large supply of batteries with the much envied "AA" rating. Don't worry! I've emptied them of any dangerous charge they might have contained, making them perfectly safe for classic kids' games like What's Wrong With The Remote? and What The Radio Says In My Imagination.

Maybe you're one of the "tweens" who's discovered the super-hot fad of safety-pin collecting! If so, you have come to the right house. Not only do I have a small box of safety pins that I am entirely willing to give you, but it often feels as if every box in my home has a safety pin or two rattling around in the bottom. Collector's items, every one. And in mint condition! Barely used!

Neighborhood children, I feel that we are off to an excellent start. I look forward to hearing your peals of laughter and your shouts of joy. I promise to ooh and aah over your costumes. I wish you a festive and profitable Halloween.

You're welcome.

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