Why You Should Never Tell Anyone They Are Too Old To Trick-or-Treat

I will never forget the last time I went trick-or-treating.  It was the year it finally happened – my Mom said I was mature enough to be trusted to wear my Dad’s army uniform as my costume!  I was giddy with excitement.  I had looked forward to those words for a long time.

I was going to wear a real army uniform.

I was going to wear a real army uniform that belonged to my Dad.

I was going to wear a real army uniform that belonged to my Dad who died when I was 3.

It had been 10 years since my Dad passed and I only had one clear memory of him: sitting in bed with him watching Perry Mason, which was our nightly ritual.  My only other vivid memory of my toddler years was that of walking into our church’s sanctuary, as I’m sure I did most Sundays, but this time everyone turned to stare.  I saw tears running down many cheeks. I grabbed my Mom’s hand tighter as I suddenly felt very scared.  And sad.  But I didn’t understand why.  I had no idea at the time what “funeral” meant.   Ten years later I understood all too well.

Since I had so few memories of my Dad, I cherished any connection I could feel with him.  He wore his uniform many, many times and now I would get to wear it too!

When Halloween arrived, I could barely contain myself until time to trick-or-treat.  This was going to be the. most. epic. costume. ever.  I  meticulously tucked all of my hair into the hat, smudged my face and carefully put on the uniform.

I was fully grown to my current height of 5’8″ in 7th grade and in that authentic uniform, I could have easily passed for an actual army recruit headed off to boot camp.  But I wasn’t.  I was just a kid who was proud to be closer to my Dad for an evening.  And excited to get candy, of course.

I met up with a friend who lived in my neighborhood and we had started our door to door quest, when it happened.  She happened.

We rang the doorbell at a house and before we could even get out any words, the lady across the threshold scoffed, “You are too old to trick or treat!” And slammed the door.

We stood there in silence – the huge grins that had been there moments before were instantly wiped away.  The magical evening I had anticipated was ruined.  I no longer felt pride in parading around in my Dad’s uniform.

I felt stupid.  And embarrassed.

You see, up until that very moment, it had never crossed my mind that I was too old to trick or treat.  Not once.  But after that night things changed. I stopped doing “childish” things.  Because the last thing one needs during that already awkward tween to teen stage is feeling ridiculed.

My Dad’s uniform never left the closet again.  I never went trick-or-treating again.

All because of one slammed door.

All because of a two cent piece of candy.

I welcome any age to ring my doorbell on Halloween.  Most are just looking for a treat, and a few might even be looking to play tricks.  But maybe, just maybe there’s one with a reason that All Hallows Eve is more of a hallowed eve.  One who has more to her story.

One who feels like she’s trick-or-treating with her Dad for the first time.


22 thoughts on “Why You Should Never Tell Anyone They Are Too Old To Trick-or-Treat”

  1. I hope you egged the house! What a douchebeyotch! So sorry to hear that happened to you. My dad died when I was 6 and I know how you felt. 🙁
    I would rather have 6 footers go trick or treating than them hanging out with the bad crowd and drink alcohol somewhere!

  2. I do think about how, all the sudden, so many pieces of the magic of childhood are taken away during those teen years. Thanks for sharing.

  3. What a bittersweet remembrance! I have read a few things today that have softened me to the tall trick or treaters. And I have eaten half of their candy.

    A toast to your dad’s memory.
    Jaye @jayesbrain.wordpress.com

  4. It’s SO amazing to me how people can be so rude and ignorant and truly not realize the impact of their words, their actions.

    I am SO sorry this happened to you. What a horrible way to break a child’s spirit and innocence.

  5. That was hard to read. I want to reach back in time and be there for you but I can’t. Instead I will honor your memories and your father by taking this message to heart.
    I will celebrate all who are out there going door to door with Halloween spirit.

  6. Great story. My teenager still likes to trick or treat with her cousins. My only rule is that she must still get into costume. This year she and one of her cousins were Beetlejuice and Lydia. They had a great time. Before he left for college her brother dressed up and went around even though he wasn’t getting candy. I would never tell someone they were too old to go. And I feel terrible that you moment was ruined like that.

  7. Some people are just heartless and cruel jerkfaces. So sorry that happened to you.

    Like Jhanis said, better for the older kids (and taller!) to be trick or treating and doing something safe versus doing dangerous and/or stupid stuff.

  8. Oh that’s awful. I sent my oldest kid out on his last trick or treat tonight, he’s 15. And he was wearing his great grandfathers Army jacket and helmet. Thankfully we live in a neighborhood where everyone is nice. He said only one person have them the stink eye and that’s because his friends costume was pretty lame.

  9. People can be cruel and thoughtless; plus trained to be cautious and judgmental as well. My 80 year old mother would do the same thing; well, she wouldn’t have opened the door to an older trick or treater unless it was a family member.

  10. That almost made me cry, Angela! I am so sorry that happened to you. You’ve made Halloween special for so many kids and families over the years. When I think of all the fun events — official and unofficial — you’ve been part of…wow!!

  11. My brother had to stop at age 8 because he was already very tall (he is now 6′ 8″). People just need to get over things and either be kind and give to all that come in costume at least to the door, or don’t bother at all.

  12. From the title and intro, I knew where this was going, and it made me sad. I hear this a lot too, for my daughter who was your age, and the one older.

    Considering all the trouble kids can get into , I’ll gladly take all the years they want to trick-or-treat.

    oh, and the problem with douche-y neighbors like the one who said that to you is they have no idea how douche-y they are.

  13. Couldn’t finish this post without a few tears.
    I am so sorry there are such cruel people in this world.
    It is never okay to slam a door in a child’s face. And honestly, if there is a child out there trick-or-treating that looks too old, I’d keep my mouth shut — because to me kids should get to be kids as long as they can.

  14. At that age, you were still a child. I had the same thing happen to me at that age, too, and it affected me. I admit, I have been the person to turn off the light once I saw the older kids coming. I rethought things this year, and welcomed the bigger kids; though, we really didn’t have that many.

  15. I’m sorry that it happened to you and I hope never to humiliate a kid like she humiliated you!
    But, what about the other houses? How did they receive you?

  16. I am sorry that this happened to you. I was 11 years old when I was told that I was too old to Trick or Treat. I never Trick or Treated again.

  17. Oh Angela, I knew I had never met your dad. I met your mom several times at Holiday dinners with Jim and Peg. But I didn’t know that your dad died when you were so young.
    I’m so sorry that that happened to you. I’m sure it’s something you will never forget. People are so thoughtless!

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