I do like to help out where I can, and I know some of you are worried about the issues of the upcoming holiday. WHAT are you going to do about all those ballerinas and werewolves at your door tomorrow night?
The Halloween Watchdogs, who in my day were warning us to have Halloween treats x-rayed before eating, so those needles and pins and razor blade hidden in them would cause no damage, or were busy warning us that candy caused cavities, are this year sending warnings about childhood allergies, childhood obesity, and the choking hazard caused by giving hard candy to children too small to realize you shouldn’t swallow food whole. You may be thinking of opting out of the whole affair, just to avoid any charges of Child Endangerment through handing out Baby Ruths. (That you will then have to eat the whole bag yourself has nothing to do with that decision, of course.)
One of my regular correspondents, who has to tidy up the house for later holidays, has come up with the perfect solution. “I’m just handing the kids my extra books,” she said. “If you’re old enough to dress up as a Kardashian, you’re old enough to read Agatha Christie.”
It’s a good idea, but perhaps one could develop it a little further. You want an assortment of choices to offer the band of vampires and pumpkins who will come calling. Someone who has dressed as Hugh Hefner (one of the big costumes this year, I hear) might not WANT that collection of Miss Marple short stories. Do NOT give in to the temptation to give him Candy (recently named one of the sexiest novels of all time. Copies of that, especially the first edition by Maxwell Kenton, can be dropped off at the Newberry marked “Attention Uncle Blogsy.”)
An easy bet would be to pick up certain books and aim them at certain costumes. The Princess Diaries series might do for all those little princesses coming to the door. (A Little Princess is also an option.) You run the risk that some of these princesses originally planned to be zombies, and would rather have a particularly gross Goosebumps book, but these are the chances you’ll have to take. Besides, they can always swap around at school later.
Similarly, there are a lot of school age Star Wars books for all the Storm Troopers who drop by, and several dance school series novels for the trick-or-treaters in tutus. (You may have to ask: in the Chicago climate many a travelling ballerina’s costume is lost under a winter coat.)
Ten to one all those vampires who drop by have already seen all the Twilight movies, and read the books, but there have been so many rip-offs (or spin-offs, to be polite) that you can certainly find something new and useful. The same is true for your Harry Potters.
Another approach might be simply to substitute books which symbolize the candy you had intended to hand out. Instead of Lemonheads, you can offer Lemony Snicket. Books on astronomy can take the place of Milky Way, jokebooks can replace Snickers, and for the aforementioned Baby Ruths, you can use books on baseball. (Yes, it’s the wrong season, and the wrong celebrity, but you at least give a trick-or-treater the satisfaction of informing you, with contempt, that the candy bar was not named for the baseball player but for the daughter if the President of the United States. You may be tempted to give the smart alec something else after that, but be careful: these kids grow up to be bloggers.)
You CAN, of course, give out books on nutrition and dental care, but I have a feeling these will be greeted much as we greeted those people who dropped toothbrushes into our goodie bags.
Or, in honor of the spookiness of the holiday, you may wish simply to give out books which are terrifying. I know where several copies of Uncle Blogsy’s book of Bloggery can be obtained. If you are sued because the poor zombies and bunnies can’t sleep at night afterward, you’re on your own.