Well, it’s Halloween time once again. Every year this holiday becomes bigger and bigger. I have yet to understand why. It made sense to be important when I was growing up getting candy. During college it was important because there were always good parties around this holiday. Now I’m quite a bit older and perhaps a little wiser and the day is just a time to send my youngest daughter and grand-daughter out to try to get their fair share of the spoils of the season. Yet, even the neighbors have fake gravestones in their yard and imitation spider webs around their doorway. If I did that some kid would probably get tangled in the webbing and trip over a grave stone. In the end I would get sued. The kids I talk to lack the killer (not literal) instinct for the season. My older brother explained Halloween to me this way. It was our solemn duty to go out and collect more candy than Mom and Dad gave away. If we failed to do so then we were not holding up out end of the deal and we would have been better off saving all that energy running around and staying home eating our folks’ candy instead of handing it out. That seemed un-American. (Even though we were in Canada at the time.) So every year we would get out the graph paper just after Labor Day and draw a map of the neighborhood. Then we would mark the houses that gave the best candy the year before with highlighter. The rationale was if we were running short on time we could just skip to those houses. Then we would memorize the map and work out the most efficient route to ensure we did not hit the same side of the street twice. There was no time or light to look at the map on the battlefield. We even marked the homes where the parents worked late so we could concentrate on those houses later. The next problem was logistics. There was no time in the brief trick or treating zone to go home to drop off excess candy so we needed a way to transport our haul. Dad was our inspiration as he had been a farmer growing up and taught us that 50 pound onion sacks were elastic enough to give but strong enough not to break with even the largest candy hauls. It was a lot of work but we were prepared. Mom always made fish sticks that night. We hated fish sticks and I think it was some protest of hers to the gross amount of candy we would be taking in. We ran from house to house from 5PM to 10PM. It was always nice to hit the houses at the end. Sometimes they were out of candy but when they weren’t they would often just empty their bowl into your bags to end their night. We never counted on having left over candy at home for two reasons. Either mother would be sure to give it all away. Or in the off chance she still had some left, she always made sure to buy a kind we didn’t like so we wouldn’t eat it before the big day. One year she gave out McDonald’s gift certificates for free soft drinks. It turns out she drastically overestimated the number of kids who would be coming to our house and bought too many certificates. It wasn’t like these days where we eat out most weeks. We went to McDonald’s twice a year. So the last night the remaining certificates were good I persuaded Mom to take me there and we used all we could carry. The two of us brought home 32 Cokes and root beers and still had gift certificates we didn’t use. Needless to say the pop all went flat before we could drink them all as a family. I don’t see that kind of dedication in today’s kids. They bring their little plastic jack-o-lantern and have it full by the time they make it down half of the street. That’s no haul. In that case Halloween wins unless you are one of those evil people to goes trick of treating without giving out any candy (shame on you.) Were we a little over the top?…sure. Did we take it too seriously?…maybe. Did we bring in more candy than our family gave out?...always!
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