Middle-class problems: Halloween
Halloween used to be straightforward. You'd dress as a rotting corpse, terrify a few confused old ladies, and you'd come home with enough sugar to put you in a coma. Good times.
But this harmless fun, like everything else in life, is more complicated now than it was. First there's the question of whether to let your precious children wander the streets and knock on strangers' doors. Probably best not. To be on the safe side, you should trudge around with them, and even then you should stick to houses you've vetted. Besides, that way you can volunteer to carry your offspring's goodie bags for them, and surreptitiously confiscate half of the chocolate. After all, it's important to think about their health.
Unfortunately, not everyone is as middle-class as you, so when you open your own door on Halloween, you're likely to be confronted not by an adorable gaggle of moppets, but by six teens in hoodies, who mumble "Trick or treak" in between puffs of their cigarettes.
To be fair, they are being true to the Halloween spirit in some ways, in that they're far scarier than anyone dressed as a zombie, so maybe you shouldn't inform them that "Trick or treat" is a ghastly American import, and that they should really recite a poem or tell a joke instead. You can always reassure yourself that you're supporting a rare example of community interaction, and that you're helping maintain an evocative folk tradition. So put down the pepper spray, and stock up on fun-sized Mars bars.
Just don't get me started on Guy Fawkes Night.
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