Throughout my life, Halloween has always been a mixed bag. And the bag wasn't always full of treats. The first few years of growing up, I celebrated just like all the other early 1970s kids. Mom and I made homemade popcorn balls in various colors. She distributed them to trick-or-treaters while daddy and I dressed up and collected treats from the neighbors.

My favorite memory is of a local haunted house held in our small town the year I was five. My teenage uncle, dressed as a werewolf, was howling wildly and shaking the prison bars that kept him safely separated from us humans. When he saw the look on my face, he broke character long enough to squat down and whisper, "It's only me! Everything is ok!"

When I got a little older, things changed. Dad went into the ministry, and we moved to an area where it was frowned upon for Christians to celebrate Halloween. This marked the end of my trick-or-treating days, and the beginning of "Alternative Parties." We dressed as Bible characters for these parties, which essentially meant we all looked the same. Bathrobe or toga, and a towel draped over the head with some sort of band across the forehead to hold it in place. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Mary, Moses, Noah-it was really hard to tell who was who. I wished I could shake things up a bit and wear a fig leaf like Eve, or wrap myself in a towel and go as Bathsheba. I've always identified more with the bad girls of the Bible anyway.

I am not sure why anyone thought that we weren't celebrating Halloween, considering we wouldn't have been having alternative parties in the first place if not for . . . Halloween. The double standard didn't escape me, and when I became a parent, I refused it. Hubby and I decided we would not celebrate Halloween, period. We didn't even acknowledge it, which meant our kids did not attend alternative events. When the day rolled around, we carried on as normal.

This lasted several years, and then, in short, we decided we were wrong. Now, my kids experience the same excitement as other kids. This year, we are planning a homemade vampire-zombie-cowgirl costume for my daughter, and for my son, whatever Disney character strikes his fancy when we hit the Halloween aisle.

I am excited to take the kids trick-or-treating. Especially since I have one that doesn't really care for chocolate, so I get all the good stuff! What I am confused about are the "Trunk or Treat" events. Who decided it was a good idea to invite kids to a parking lot full of vehicles with open trunks? On the other 364 days of the year, we teach them to avoid the vehicles of strangers. A decorated trunk full of candy, and a person wearing a mask, does not make it better.

And really, I'm not sure I ever want my kids to learn the phrase, "Trunk or treat." What kind of an option is that? "Take this treat, little girl, or I will push you into my trunk!"

Halloween has always been a mixed bag, but I think we will continue to fill that bag door-to-door rather than Pinto to El Camino to Chrysler Cordoba.