Earlier in the week I asked my grandson Gage what kind of haul he expected to make Halloween night. The answer surprised me.
I was thinking in terms of candy. A good haul would be three large bags (approximately 25 pounds) of processed sugar that would last the average kid about two days.
Gage had something else in mind. With a perfectly straight face he said, "A Nintendo 3DS."
Either things have changed substantially since last Halloween or we weren't talking about the same holiday. Who gives out $200 gaming systems to trick-or-treaters?
Me: "Halloween is still a door-to-door operation, right?"
Gage: "Yeah but now there's a witch who comes to your house."
According to Gage, Switch Witch sneaks into your house Halloween night while everyone is asleep and switches your hard-earned candy for an "awesome toy."
Gage explained that a better deal you couldn't get anywhere else. As this was his first Switch Witch year, he was going to shoot for the moon. If he didn't get the Nintendo 3DS, he'd still have all of his candy.
I asked how Switch Witch knew he wanted a Nintendo 3DS? Gage said it was foolproof. He only had to tell his mom, Grammy, and me. We would tell her.
Switch Witch sounded vaguely familiar, like Santa Claus but with a broom and a wart instead of a reindeer and a twinkle.
The idea is well-intended. Getting rid of all that processed sugar in exchange for a item that won't rot your kid's head sounds great. There's just one little problem: Do we really need another kid holiday fraught with unrealistic expectations?
As the current Fright Night stands, there's no loss of sleep worrying about whether you're going to get what you want for Halloween.
That's because kids already have a good idea of how trick-or-treating pays off. In fact there's a formula: H X D = Z, or roughly the number of hours times the number of doors equals Z amount of candy.
It's almost impossible to screw that up. Who ever heard of a kid waking up the morning after Halloween and crying because a witch forgot to bring him a bicycle?
No kid drives himself crazy hoping that a magic rabbit will bring him a BB gun. Correspondingly there's no anti-climatic letdown because all he got was a chocolate bunny the size of a horse.
There's a reason kids don't write letters to Columbus or Martin Luther King asking for a pony. It's because the rules for those holidays haven't changed. There's no expectation of a major payoff.
Maybe I'm just a traditionalist. Maybe I just like my holidays the old-fashioned way. I do know that Switch Witch wouldn't have worked on me. It's too much like paying for your presents.
Then there's the possibility that Switch Witch could easily get out of hand and go from being a simple alternative to tooth decay to a maxing out of your credit cards.
Right now you're probably thinking, "Well, isn't it up to parents to make sure that Switch Witch doesn't turn into a materialistic nightmare."
Maybe you're an idiot. How do you think we got Christmas?
Robert Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.