No trick, no treat
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:05
As a young boy, I was told that Halloween was evil. “Del diablo,” they would say. As the date approached at the catholic elementary I attended in Ciudad Juárez, a bright red pamphlet would begin to circulate, outlining the beginnings of the holiday in pagan and Wiccan traditions. At the back flap in bold letters it would read: “Save this holy time to celebrate the Saints and not the devil!”
My classmates would snicker at such allegations, largely dismissing them as old-fashioned and the next day they’d all come to school with back packs full of contraband chocolate bars they’d collected the night before. One could always tell who’d been trick-or-treating because they’d be conspicuously absent from the altar-making sessions we’d have every Oct. 31 evening, in preparation for the Day of the Dead celebrations. The teachers would call roll and when somebody was absent they’d say, “Este se fue a El Paso al tricki tricki.”
My mom tells me I only trick-or-treated once, I was a one-year-old in a cat costume. Whenever she sees the picture, she proudly says, “that’s the last time you trick-or-treated.” Now, she’ll say that she didn’t let us go out on Halloween night because our religious beliefs did not support it and because she wasn’t going to condone such a heavily commercialized holiday.
I remember initially feeling resentful towards my parents and school for preventing my sisters and I from trick-or-treating. I’d look at my cousins dress in their elaborate costumes, enjoying their candy and it would annoy me that all I got to do was cut up decorations of papel picado for altars for Cantinflas or Benito Juárez. The following day on Nov. 1, however, my mom would dress my sisters and I in different typical Mexican attires, and paint a skeleton on our faces. And I admit I had fun at the Day of the Dead celebrations. I’d admire the colorful altars and the varied foods. When I got older I even won a couple calavera competitions, where I’d jokingly made fun of our principal.
Then we moved to El Paso and Halloween became inescapable. My sisters and I would beg our mom to let us trick-or-treat, but she’d say it was too dangerous and give the same speech. Instead we’d go to our grandparent’s house for a sort of get together where we’d bake a cake. Once, my grandfather insisted to my mom to at least let us hand out candy and she eventually agreed. This then became a sort of tradition, where we’d hand out candy and bake a cake at my grandparent’s house. I’d always dress up as Harry Potter and tried to scare the little kids with my sisters, and I remember actually enjoying myself doing it.
I still don’t trick-or-treat, not because I believe that it goes against my religious views, but because after all those years of wanting to do it and not being able to do it, I’ve lost interest. I don’t hold a grudge against my mother for preventing us from doing it either, because in a way I understand where she was coming from as a protective mother grounded in religion and tradition.
Recently, my sisters and my dad went out to trick or treat with our dog. They had somehow convinced my mom to let them, or she’d just gotten tired of saying no. When they asked me if I wanted to go, I told them I’d rather stay in and give out candy. They came back about 20 minutes later looking upset. Turns out our dog had vomited on the car ride over to the richer neighborhoods and they decided they would just trick-or-treat the following year. My mom just smiled at them and said, “¿Qué les dije?”
Andrés Rodríguez may be reached at email@example.com.