Isn't it cute how we teach our tiny children how to extort candy from neighbors by threatening, "Trick or treat"? Does anyone actually need to teach a perverted human heart (even that of a cute little 6 year old) how to demand treats from others for no virtuous reason whatsoever?
They have been practicing that kind of behavior since they first were able to talk (and even before that). Give me that toy or I will cry. I want to play with the remote control or I will pout. I want to eat my dessert first or I will throw myself to the floor, screaming and kicking my feet. "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child" (Proverbs 22:15). (You need to look up the reference if you want to know the solution to this problem.)
I remember many years of candy extortion, and I enjoyed this criminal behavior far more than I should have. Back in the day, I can't remember anyone giving us apples with razor blades embedded or candy that was laced with hallucinogens. But then, what do I know. My experience formed a very small slice of history. Now, as a septuagenarian, I am prone to say that society is going down the drain. But I suppose the older generation has always maintained that posture.
I also remember the last time I said "Trick or treat". I was a greedy teenager with my friend who was equally greedy. It was getting a bit late in the evening--too late for the cute little pirates and ballerinas--when we approached that final door. We roused the lady of the house, who opened the door with something near terror in her eyes. She didn't have candy in a bowl by the door. In fact she excused herself to fetch our treat. When she returned she offered a small bottle of grape juice and a piece of fruit. Even this thoughtless, selfish teenager was ashamed of the consternation we had caused this trembling old lady.
I can remember when some more genteel members of society tried to change the tradition by encouraging kids to say "Halloween handout" instead of "Trick or treat". Fat chance they had to push against the flow of this ossified classic.
There were a few years that we joined the entrenched tradition and handed out candy, but we determined to be spiritual about it. We had ordered a hundred tracts for children, printed for the very occasion. That only lasted a few years, mainly because the quality of the tract was so distasteful.
Now we unashamedly take the coward's way out. We usually eat at a restaurant and run errands during the crucial hours, and keep the light off when we return home. The last thing these kids need is a duffel bag full of sugary comestibles. We already have an epidemic of childhood obesity. If it doesn't bloat their bellies, it is sure to rot their teeth.
What a lousy tradition our culture has developed to dominate Reformation Day!