When I was a kid, Halloween seemed simple because I wore street clothes and a plastic mask while carrying a brown Piggly Wiggly grocery store bag to collect my treats.
In fact, the only difficulty involved the plastic mask — replete with a rubber band I wrapped around my head — because it offered little ventilation and proved too hot.
Nevertheless, my father loaded me into his Dodge Dart and we rode to the homes of my parents' friends so I could greet them for treats. Life in a small town had its advantages.
Halloween is different for my young sons today because there literally seems to be thousands of young kids who emerge from the shadows on Halloween night in our neighborhood.
Children and adults alike are decked out in extravagant costumes and parents need to be prepared for the onslaught.
Here are a few tips for the parents of young kids.
First, don't try to be too healthy on Halloween. That's actually terrible parenting advice, but you have to remember that kids just want to be kids. Eschew practicality.
For example, I loved my late aunt and looking back as a parent, I certainly appreciate the clothes she purchased for me every Christmas.
But as a 10-year-old, I always lamented that you can't eat or play with a sweater.
Secondly, we now allow our children to roam the street in our neighborhood with their friends while I stay a good distance behind. My 8- and 11-year-old sons are beginning to flex their own independence and it's much more relaxing physically, if not mentally, to give them more space.
Pour a nice glass of wine and sit out front with your wife or significant other along with a few friends while passing out candy together. In fact, you can rotate walking with the kids, allowing you time to relax. Moreover, it makes for a pleasant evening and a way to connect with your neighbors.
Eat dinner as a family before you trick-or-treat and begin the process early so you can shut down at a reasonable hour.
I long ago came to the realization that I should resist fighting the commercialization and hype associated with all holidays. Instead, I use the event to actually spend time with my family just as my parents did years ago.
Costumes may become more elaborate, but milk chocolate candy infused with caramel will always remind me of the fun times I spent with my dad after my mother hugged us goodbye.
Keith Berry is a married father of two sons who lives in the Westchase area.