How Old Is Too Old for Trick-or-Treating?

I was reading a news article the other day about a town that banned trick-or-treating for kids over the age of 12. 12. At that age, I was still constructing towers of beanie babies and lodging my outdated Furby in different parts of the house until I couldn’t hear it snoring. These are not signs of adulthood. Unless the world has changed dramatically since 2005, these are signs of a kid being a kid and as far as I know, kids are still allowed to go trick or treating. Preventing children from trick or treating would essentially ban them from partaking in some of the greatest holiday traditions known to man (Christmas, if you’re reading this, don’t fret…we both know you’re still my favorite): Saying “Trick-or-Treat”
Think of the last time you were able to get free food by uttering 3 simple words on a stranger’s doorstep. If you are remembering a time other than your last trick-or-treating experience, it was likely followed by a door to the face or a trip to the local psych ward. (“What do you MEAN you don’t have candy?? It’s JANUARY for God’s sake!”) Halloween is the only time of year when muttering a couple of syllables is immediately rewarded by free bags of Reeses and chocolate. It is the second best way to accumulate candy, only beaten by the Skittles commercial where Skittles pellets rain down from the sky. Finding a House/Neighborhood with the Best Candy
Nothing that is worth getting comes easily. Contrary to popular belief, this mantra actually stems from trick or treating as it is common knowledge among children that the house with the most steps and the scariest decorations has the best, most high-quality candy around. (One time, my friends and I climbed the stairway equivalent of Mount Everest to trick or treat at a house and when we got to the top, there were 5 baskets of king-size candy bars with a sign that said “take as many as you like”. The talking dragon that opened the door assured us it was okay. True story.) Trick or treating also has the ability to turn ordinary children into tactical experts. (“First we will start at Melissa’s neighborhood, then circle around to Jonathan’s house, cross the street, climb up the haunted driveway and boom, we are at Ms. CandyQueen’s house before all the other kids.”) Rumor has it that the military’s Navy Seal team is actually just a group of kids who believe that terrorist is another word for “pillowcase filled with candy” and can find one in a matter of days. Just a rumor, though. Candy Swap
When you’re young, anything can become a form of currency. “You want this watch right here? Give me 5 woodchips, a bucket of cat whiskers, 3 packs of Starbursts (filled with only red pieces), and your soul and it’s yours.” On October 31st, such exchanges take the form of candy. With Skittles, Reeses, and Yorks topping the list of most valuable items, it takes a great amount of negotiation between fellow candy hunters in order to receive your most desired goodies. You don’t learn about exchange value when you get your first job or buy something with your own money for the first time. You learn it when you try to trade a lifesaver for a full-sized Snickers bar and get shunned for the rest of the night. Imagination doesn’t have an expiration date. How one thinks at 12 is not that much different from how one thinks at 13 and it is for this reason that putting an age limit on trick or treating is absurd. No one should be able to stick a deadline on trick or treating because doing so would mean sticking a deadline on a childhood that is not yours. I stopped trick or treating when I started to feel embarrassed to say “trick or treat” in unison with a group of 10 year olds, not because someone else deemed my childhood to be over. In an ideal world, trick or treating would not be an activity reserved for children but a tradition open to people of all ages. In reality, this is not an option. Because without adults, there would be no one to give out candy and without kids, there would be no one to take it. Eventually, you’ll have to choose one side or the other and when that time comes, the decision will be up to you. No one will judge you for your decision. Unless, of course, you charge a 12 year old for acting their age. I will judge you for that.

(Image via ShutterStock.)