Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or Treat

Trick or treat, Smell my feet,
Give me something good to eat.
If you don’t, I don’t care,
I’ll pull down your underwear.

I was never really sure how the feet line made it in there.  Obviously, something about someone’s feet was pretty scary.  Of course, being around Zac when he takes his shoes off, I can understand how frightening it can be.  It’s not a sweet aromatic smell.  The underwear part explains quite a bit of my later adventures, however.

Tonight is the night.  Little kids, and big kids alike, will wander door to door ringing doorbells and knocking harder when the people inside don’t answer fast enough.   They’ve dressed up in their cutest scary outfit and now demand their prize of expensive candy.  Standing at the sidewalk, watching it all with a flashlight gripped in their hand, is Mommy and Daddy, smiling as their child becomes a panhandler for the night.  Candy is dropped into the bag, two or three pieces of varying delights; a “Thank you” is screamed as the child rushes back shouting their loot.  “I got a Milky Way.”  “I got an apple.”  “They gave me money!”  I wonder if any child was like Charlie Brown and received a rock.  I think I would go back and kick the parent’s ass that did that to my child.

I remember dressing up and making the rounds as a kid.  I don’t remember my costumes, but I do remember receiving apples and loose change along with an assortment of candy.  Dad would take us while Mom stayed behind and manned the fort, passing out the candy.  It was only fair, right?  I mean, you can’t take your kids begging for candy unless you’re willing to pass some out yourself.  A couple of years my uncle walked with us along with one of his friends, passing a football back and forth as my sister and I ran up to the door.  My guess was he was looking for single moms to give a treat, but he only got tricked.

We weren’t allowed to dip into our stash until we made it back home.  Stories always went around of some poor kid biting into an apple only to have his mouth sliced open by a hidden razor.  Precautions were always taken and every piece that went into the bag had to be examined by the parents for product tampering.  A pile was made on the kitchen table of suspicious candy to be tossed out.  However, I think it was candy my parents wanted and would wind up hidden in their bedroom, never making it to the trash bin.

I understand the precaution, however.  We did it with the boys and when Dylan returns with her loot tonight, we’ll do it again.  Bags are emptied and candy is examined for needle marks or openings.  Anything in question goes straight to the trash can, even Reese’s Cups, which really hurts as they are my favorite.  Of course, I’ll also follow the tradition and sneak a few pieces for my lunch the next day.  After all, the eight-year old doesn’t need THAT much candy.  Still, you can never be too careful with your kids.  It’s sad, but there are some sick individuals out there who cannot pass up a chance to be cruel.

Once the candy was inspected and given the thumbs up, the sorting and counting began.  We were like Scrooge McDuck, giggling over how rich we were.

“I have four Three Musketeers!”

“I got six boxes of Milk Duds.”

“Look, twelve lollipops!”

And it was stacked and shuffled and restacked.  Whatever we didn’t like was graciously given to the parents as their tip for escorting us through the dark streets to knock on strangers’ doors.  We would dump the assorted sugar rush into a large bowl after devouring three or four delights before our parents could put the halt on it and stashed our treasure in our rooms.  One or two pieces made it into our lunch boxes and some were sneaked before breakfast.  The barter system soon began, as well.  “I’ll trade you two Baby Ruths for that box of Nerds.”  We were learning economics and didn’t even know it.

Eventually, all of the good pieces were gone as was the excitement of counting how much was left.  The remaining candy was dumped into a community bowl and placed in the kitchen for whoever needed to satisfy a sweet tooth quickly.  By Thanksgiving it was tossed out to make room for the Christmas sweets that seemed to always make it home and Halloween was just a memory.

It’s Halloween, trick or treat, the sweet and sour holiday.  For enduring the sour of the ghoulish decorations that fill the yard and line the walk, the little girl dressed as a fairy princess gets a sweet morsel that her parents will manhandle before she gets to eat it.  Then the child will suffer a sugar rush that will tempt the parents to sneak into the room at night and toss some candy into the trash while the unsuspecting child sleeps.  It doesn’t work, though.  The candy has been counted and while the child may not know where she took her shoes off last, she knows how much of each candy resides in her bowl and she will be quick to call, “Thief!”

Children aren’t the only ones who do some counting on Halloween night, by the way.  Parents count, as well, only we count kids.  Each year, my dad and I compare notes throughout the night.  “So, how many this year?”

“We had about sixty kids.  You should have seen this one kid.  He was made up like Buzz Lightyear with sound effects and everything.  How many did you have?”

“It was light here this year, only twenty-three.  The neighborhood over was packed, though.”  And then we discuss the kids’ costumes and economic times.

The kids may go door to door collecting candy, but Halloween is for the whole family.  We are so busy the first nine months of the year that the final three months bring us back together, reminding us of family and cause us to reach out.  We’re still busy, sometimes even more so, but now we are aware.  The treat isn’t the candy tossed into the bag; it’s the family and memories that surround us as we’re walking up and down the street or answering the doorbell for costumed kids.    The trick is that it never lasts long enough before reality takes it away again.  This year, throw yourself into the holiday and into the family that surrounds you.  All too soon, it will be nothing but a memory.

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  1. I agree everything collected on Halloween night should be thoroughly inspected before eating.

    "After all, the eight-year old doesn’t need THAT much candy"

    Was this sarcasm? I hope it was because nobody "needs" candy.

    1. Me sarcastic? No Yes, it was a little tongue in cheek. We did inspect everything and found it safe and Dyl even shared right off the bat.