I'm not one of those nut jobs who decorates the yard for whatever holiday is scheduled for the current month, but for Halloween, I usually make a half-assed attempt to make my house look somewhat inviting. No flashing lights, but something resembling a pumpkin may appear. This year, meh, but I doubt that was why only a dozen or so kids showed up.
For years I ranted (internally) against the little extortionists that forced me to puchase candy and answer the door umpteen times. Leaving the porch light off did not deter them, either, because (thanks to DST) it is still light out when Trick or Treating begins. Then, in a moment of self-awareness, I realized I got a kick out of the kids (or most of them).
The two girls that live in the house north of me are always the first to show up. They look how I expect kids to look on Halloween - kind of disheveled, a little breathless, very excited. This year the girl in the house to the south of me finally decided (or her parents decided) she was too old to Trick or Treat - after all, she now has her drivers license. At least she and her cohort were always well costumed. Several years ago, a too-old-to-trick-or-treat kid showed up at my door, wearing street clothes and a mask. And bling. I didn't know whether to laugh or worry he was casing the joint.
The number of kids who TorT in my neighborhood can fluctuate wildly, depending on whether there are forays from neighboring additions. Consequently, I never know how much candy to buy. One year I ran out and tried offering apples (classic!) The look on the kids' faces still makes me laugh out loud. Other years, I have tried buying candy I don't like - Dum Dums or Almond Joy - so I would not be tempted to eat it myself. Turns out no one likes that crap. The kids did not exactly recoil, but they definitely hesitated before plunging their hands into the goodie bowl. The worst was the year I handed out cheapo plastic toys, in my misguided crusade against suger; most of them wound up in my front bushes.
When I was a kid, most people handed out store-bought candy, but there were always a few who made popcorn balls (always stale) and cookies (always crumbly), or handed out apples (see above). One family took advantage of the opportunity to divest their household of all the comic books their boys had accumulated over the past year. This was a very popular house. A few would wrap ten pennies in netting and ribbon, which sounds kind of cheap, except back then, a regular sized candy bar cost five cents. Last night I could have handed each child a dollar and come out ahead.
We also used to collect for Unicef. Does anybody do that anymore? I could never figure out if one was supposed to collect candy OR collect Unicef money OR if it was okay to do both.
The biggest puzzle of all, though, were the kids who did not consume all their candy on Halloween but rather doled it out over a period of time. I'm sure parental assistance (or insistance) was involved, but it just seemed unnatural. And pointless.
Now, hand over the Peanut M&Ms, and no one gets hurt.