It's time to throw a monkey wrench into the age-old debate over where to raise your kids -- city or country. City folks, you have the culture, the access to different schools, and you never have to drive white-knuckled in a snowstorm with your kids in the backseat chastened after a tongue-lashing.
But our Halloween is better.
And what scientific evidence do I have to support this theory?
My kid gets to eat her candy the minute she climbs back in the car. I did too.
That's because I was trick or treating these same streets back in the '80s, and many of the same families are there. Like the lady who makes some of the best homemade fudge you will ever eat and packages it in tinfoil. It's her daughter handing it out these days, carefully placing it in the kids' buckets -- ever aware that the parents would be the ones fisting the treats at their house. (I still count the day she dropped a bag full off at my old office on my handful of best days ... ever.)
It's that good because it's homemade. And I'm not in the least bit afraid for my daughter to eat it.
In fact, in all our years of trick or treating, I have yet to go through her candy bag before letting her loose.
My mother never looked through ours either. And she was raised in the suburbs and therefore prone to being much more cautious than our country-raised father and a nurse who was aware of health concerns.
But on Halloween, she had none more than "don't eat too much before bedtime" or "make sure you brush your teeth!"
Because there wasn't much else TO worry about. And if you're a parent who actually gets off your butt and follows the trick or treaters, shooting them a little guidance along the way, in a small town there isn't anything to worry about.
Even in the era of the OMG, pedophiles and helicopter parents whirring, whirring everywhere, the children in my daughter's set are blissfully unaware of Halloween as this terrifying holiday of predators and poisoners. And location plays a stronger role than you'd think.
Sure, we have scary people in small towns.
But if we know someone's kind of creepy, we simply don't go to their house on Halloween. And as in any small town, we do know who's creepy. Just like we know who's cheating on their husband. Who got a DWI last week and who can't get pregnant. And who tried to slit her wrists last week but was found by her 5-year-old who coincidentally likes to take her shoes off and throw them at other kids in kindergarten.
What? I didn't say every part of small town life was as epic as our Halloween.
Image by Jeanne Sager