Having re-read the letter it sounds to me that she planned her dinner so she would be done before the trick or treaters would normally have been expected. How would she know what time to be able to plan dinner if there were not set hours? If it were "open season" all day, there really would be no time to she could plan for an uninterrupted dinner.
Her statements that she "wanted to teach them that they shouldn't overextend the holiday and disrupt other people's lives. " and that she "sitting down for an early dinner that was planned for 5 p.m. so we wouldn't be disturbed by trick-or-treaters" leads me to believe that there are established hours and the kids violated them.
Where I live, Houston, there are no set hours for ToT. But no, it's not "open season" all day long. It's dusk to about 8:30 with stragglers till 9. And this is what it has been since I was a kid in the 60s.
Everyone eats dinner -- even the kids -- and THEN the ToTing begins. Dusk here is around 630 and that's pretty much when we get our earliest customers.
Now, I realize that different cities/communites have different norms and expectations but I can't imagine that any place has "open season" all day.
Each community sets their hours, which are published in newspapers and shared on the local news. Honestly, it's such an accepted practice where I live that I don't think it's necessary for anyone to "enforce" them. It actually didn't even occur to me that people would TOT outside the set hours (I expect a 10 minute window at start and finish).
I really wish the LW had specified whether there were set hours, although maybe she assumed (like me) that everyplace operated that way. Also, she only mentions these 3 kids (from the same house) coming early. If there weren't set hours, wouldn't more kids be showing up? (We don't know the neighborhood, # of kids, parent's work schedule, etc).
Seems that if she assumed such a thing, she'd have done some research to find out IF that were indeed the case and most especially, what the specific set hours were. It's one thing to assume that there ARE set hours, it's a whole other thing to assume what those hours actually are, as I'm sure they vary according to location.
Again, there aren't set hours here, as far as the city or community mandating them, but we just don't get early birds because the norm is to begin at dusk.
I'm guessing that Mom in this case got a bit overenthusiastic and didn't think about how early the kids were going. When my kids were young, sure, they wanted to run out the door and ToT asap. But it was up to me to calm them down a bit and get some dinner into them and then have them wait till the appropriate time.
Again, LW should have just not answered the door. End of story. But I can tell you that as a mother, even if (or maybe especially if) my kids had come home with a story of a rude lady turning them away with a lecture, my reaction would be "avoid that house and that lady, enjoy your candy, and forget about it." The idea of calling her up to chastise her in return is rude and totally unproductive.