Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween: Then and Now

As a kid, I used to love Halloween.  When I was a kid, it was safe, or at least it seemed so back then.  In my earliest recollections of Halloween, I remember going trick or treating with my brother and sister or my cousins in our neighborhood.  Back then you carried a grocery size orange bag from door to door getting candy, pennies, and special treats. By the time you got home, your bag was so full that the handles broke,  or your bag was so heavy that you had to drag it until it tore, or you were so tired from going door to door that you didn't even care whether you still had your mask on or not.

There was always a house or 2 where you were invited in for a glass of kool-aid or punch, or for some special treat. I remember being served corn dogs or hot dogs instead of candy, or getting to decorate my own cupcake and eating it before gathering my bag of goodies and going to the next house. Sometimes you didn't even know whose house it was but you trusted that you were safe.

Back then most parents stayed home and handed out treats while the kids went trick or treating unless the children were obviously too little to go by themselves. But back then, even children in grade school went by themselves or with other non-adult trick or treaters. We stayed out late too. Sometimes it was 11:00 p.m. before we got home.

There was also the 1 or 2 houses where nobody was home so they would treat the kids on the trust system by leaving a bowl of candy on the porch with a note telling them to help themselves to a piece or 2 of candy. Believe it or not, most the kids were honest enough that that is exactly what they did. Yes, once in a while there was some bully, or greedy brat that would dump the bowl into their bag but for the most part, the kids were trustworthy.

When you finally did get home, you couldn't wait to start eating the candy even though you had been eating it the whole night. It was exciting to get homemade popcorn balls and candied apples. Often you would get little plastic baggies full of home-made candies and fudge. Of course you immediately had to sort all your favorite candies out from the rest and hide them from your siblings so that they (the siblings) wouldn't take them when you weren't around.

Today, it is a whole different world. Children now have to be taken by their parents and only to places that they trust. Kids cannot even eat their candy until it has been examined for fear that a needle or razor blade has been put in it. And let them go by themselves?  No way!  There are so many perverts and sick people out there today that to let a child go trick or treating without an adult would be so irresponsible in so many neighborhoods, cities, and towns.

Now if a child brings home a homemade treat, it is thrown out immediately (unless the parents know the treat-giver and trusts them). People are afraid to let their children go into houses now for fear that they will be harmed or molested. And at the same time, people are afraid to let children come into their homes for fear of being held responsible for some accusation or injury or for fear of being "cased" by a teen burglar or harassed by troublemakers.

It's not that there weren't bad people back then; I'm sure there were but you just didn't hear about them like you do today. Usually if you heard something bad about somebody, it was that they egged  or papered somebody elses house, or that their house was haunted so you just didn't go there.

It is really sad how Halloween has changed but at the same time, it is really good that parents have become so involved in what their kids are doing. It is also really good that businesses, schools, and communities have become so involved. Now days, children get to go to carnivals put on by the schools, or to shopping malls where each store hands out candy. Churches are really involved too. Often they organize parties so that the children are kept in a safe environment.

I guess when I really look at the differences from then to now, they aren't necessarily all bad. It just depends on whether you want to dwell on the bad ...or embrace the good.   I'd like to think that people are good and caring. As a grandmother, I'd like to embrace the good and hope that children today, and especially my grandchildren, will have as good a memory of their Halloween experiences as I did of mine. And I'd like to wish everyone a "Happy Halloween".

Friday, October 22, 2010

My Experience as a Working Adult/Student

I must be CRAZY!  Here I am...a wife, a mother, a grandmother...and I have gone back to school. I had made a promise to my mother on her deathbed that I would get my degree.  Of coarse back then I was going to school for computer engineering. I had even been accepted to OU's College of Engineering. But life happens and I dropped school for a semester. And the semester somehow turned in to many years. Actually, twenty-eight years except for the year I put in at Oklahoma City Community College picking up an associates degree in math.

I was never the normal college student.  Even when I had first started college, I was already married and had 3 sons.  I never got to experience the college life that so many others had but it didn't matter. I was there to learn how to make a comfortable living. I was there as a role model to my boys. Now all these years later, I'm doing it again, but this time to finish with a degree in business, and as a role model to my grandchldren.

As a working (and a little older) adult, I find it very hard to go to work every day and go to school 2 or 3 nights. When I am not at work or school, I am almost always at home doing homework or studying, or reading for the next class. I can remember how I used to be able to stay up nearly all night and still take care of my family and home, and go to school or work. Now all these years later, I can barely stay awake until 10:30 p.m. and my house is in dire need of a housekeeper. But time is running out and I still have a promise to keep.

Truthfully though, I love it. I have always enjoyed school except for a short time during my rebellious years in high school. If I could afford it, I would quit work and become a professional student. What I have noticed is that while life goes on,  change is inevitable, and yet, some things remain the same. For instance, the girls still talk about their boyfriends, the boys still talk about their cars, and now I'm more than a little older than many of my classmates.

For the most part, it has been good. I mainly have classes with others who are also working adults. I was taught long ago that nothing is free, you have to work for what you want, and what you want, might not be what you get. And that is still so true.

 I get up around 5:00 every morning, have coffee and get off to work. I put in an 8 hour day and then go to school at least 2 nights a week. It has been a real struggle for me and yet compared to some of the others, I really don't have much to complain about. When I feel like it is about to get the best of me, I sit and think about the young lady who has 4 children (one of which has severe medical problems), or the young man whose time has been spent in the war and has probably seen more sadness and horrible things than I will ever see. I count my blessings and look up to them and so many others, and realize that they have so much more to deal with and if they can handle it all, then who am I to complain?  I will be graduating in May 2011 ( if all goes as planned) and I can honestly say that I earned my degree, thanks to those around me who have shown me that while it can be a struggle, it can be done if you really want it. And I can't help but think that my mother would be proud.