by Pete Mazzaccaro

It must be a sign of old age really getting me. I’m just not that excited about Halloween anymore.

I don’t have a complaint about Halloween. If anything, it may be our best holiday. Get dressed up. Go door to door for free candy.

When I was a kid, I’d plan my costume for weeks. I once spent hours on a wire and paper mache monster mask just for Halloween. And in middle school, I’d stay out for hours’ filling a pillow case with pound upon pound of free treats. It wasn’t nearly as much about the candy as it was about the thrill of wandering neighborhood streets in the dark.

My kids aren’t old enough to go “free range,” but they already like Halloween a lot. They might even like it better than Christmas. Candy is pretty popular at my house.

But still, I’m not all that eager for Halloween. And I’m not sure why.

I don’t mind walking with my kids or staying at home to hand out treats. It’s nice that we still have something that forces us out into our neighborhoods to knock on our neighbors’ doors. For many of us it might be the only time we ever get to.

No. The way everyone else enjoys Halloween is fine with me.

What I can’t get into anymore is decorating for it. And by decorating, I mean both the front of my house and me.

I have neighbors who really enjoy the decorating part. They make their front yards into fun house graveyards and remake front porches into crypt entrances. Some of these displays seem like they are definitely a major draw on the local power grid.

Some people are already done decorating, and Halloween is still two weeks away. They’ve lined their walkways with ghosts and festooned their steps with pumpkins. These people take it seriously.

Not me. I’ll be ready to hand out wagon loads of candy with a smile, but there will be no plastic tombstones in my front yard. No rubber zombies swinging from my tree. If I’m feeling motivated, I might manage to get up a few strings of orange lights, if for no other reason than to make sure the wave of teenagers who come to ring my bell after sundown can at least see where they’re going.

I also won’t wear a costume. Not out of protest. I just don’t feel like it.

I still get offers to participate in elaborate costumed contrivances – to be the John Oates to a friend’s Darryl Hall, for example. But I can’t do it. Just doesn’t feel right. No offense, Hall. You’ll have to handle the man eaters on your own.

At some point, you have to give up the privilege of wearing a goofy mask and attending parties for costumed adults. Not because being an adult means that responsibility dictates it, but rather because the holiday, at its best, really is about kids. It’s about helping them pick a fun alter ego for the evening and making sure someone is at the door when they ring the bell for a treat.

And that’s a good thing. The last thing the world needs is another guy in a John Oates disguise.