Friday, October 23, 2009


Don’t tell my kids, but I really hate Halloween. It’s not just the drama of finding costumes, decorating the yard, and avoiding any social invitation that implies that I might be expected to dress up (I’m a grown up. I don’t have to.) The thing I really hate is that suddenly the household is infested with candy. Our neighborhood has exponentially more houses than children, which results in handfuls of candy being doled out rather than individual pieces. It’s too much. We could limit the outing to just trick-or-treating down our cul-de-sac and there would already be too much candy. But what’s the fun in that? The whole idea is to visit house after house after house after house until each of those individual candy bars amounts to a sack filled with a huge variety of loot.

Back in the day, planning for Halloween never included a trip to the “Halloween store”. There was no such thing as a Halloween store, those hateful places are new. We had to forage in the cedar closet and storage area for our costumes. There were an awful lot of Korean Princesses and Army Doctors; with an odd assortment of rigid plastic masks and smock-like “costumes” that mom would just tie on top of whatever clothes we were already wearing.

poor Julie. What is she? A rhino-challenged demon?

We’d suffer through dinner and wait for the sun to go down, and then we’d grab an empty pillowcase and descend on the neighborhood. Dad and Dr. Cronin would accompany whichever of the eleven kids between them were at the appropriate age and level of coolness for trick or treating on any particular year. They’d carry the flashlights, shouting hello to the neighbors as we barreled to each door and back and then raced onward to the next house. When we had successfully traversed the mighty trek down Jackson, we took a much needed rest at the Taylors’, where we kids would be invited in to bob for apples while the grown ups bobbed for vodka freshened their cocktails.

What? You don’t carry cocktails when you take your kids trick or treating? What are you, a communist?

Once our pillowcases were sufficiently stuffed, we’d head down to one or the other of the basements of our adjacent houses for massive strategic sorting, and then the bartering would commence.

One of the highlights of our Halloween outing was the annual visit to the big white house across the street. They were locally famous for their Halloween offerings, and many a carload of kids would descend on our neighborhood each year to join the line up of hooligans waiting for their turn at the candy buffet. The bounty was plentiful. They not only had full sized candy bars, but they also had bowls of money! That was just so opulent; it added such intrigue to our perception of the riches that were surely hidden at that enigmatic address.

There is a similar story in our current neighborhood; one of the beautiful big houses on the canyon gave out quarters for a couple of years in a row. My kids couldn’t wait to get there last year, and they were not disappointed - although there was no money involved. They were giving out Halloween chachkies! Witch shaped candles, pumpkin ceramic mugs, ghost figurines, you name it. They said it was just all of the crap treasure they had collected during over the years, and this time when they took out the Halloween boxes, they decided to be done with it. Genius. I can’t wait to see what they offer this year.

Okay, maybe hate is too strong a word...


flashing back to Halloween in Baltimore said...

looks like some of your siblings were wearing the "store bought" variety of costume...I actually remember longing for that blue princess one. I still am embarrassed that I complained about my handmade costumes. (sorry mom)
I have a great pic of Beth and me going as Tom Sawyer (me) and the rich lady (Beth) in 5th(?) grade, complete with gum cigarettes that looked like they had real smoke.
Ah..the CANDY! Living in a neighborhood of rowhouses made our candy stash OBSCENE. My kids have no idea the volume of candy that they are missing out on by living in a small Central PA town with no rowhouses.
Don't let the locals know it but, after a few weeks looking at all the Halloween candy in my kid's rooms, I stick it in a bag and then toss it to the kids lined up for the Memorial Day parade. (which I've had to march in for 6 yrs as a girl scout leader)
Kids really have low candy standards by May :D

MB said...

Jacq, seeing that picture made me laugh out loud at my desk this morning! Love it.
MB aka The Gypsy

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Aw, Jacquie, you are feeling the helloween love.....

Great post. I can remember the smell of those nights, reading this.

Ellie the Witch with the itchy wig -- it was driving me crazy! Clearly.

Mom c said...

Hey, I think the costumes are pretty creative, especially since we were in Seoul, Korea and I think I bought up whatever the PX had to offer. I guess they had lots of fake noses, lol. It is a classic, love the blog. love mom

Anonymous said...

Ach, Jacq, THIS is the Halloween I love, not the ghoul-infested death crap that takes over nowadays. I love those childhood trick or treating memories so much, although I do not recall bowls of money across the street!

We do keep the cocktails-whilst-accompanying-your-kid tradition alive in these parts, however, and I have taken over mom's role of making one special candy bar request. My current fave: Take 5. YUM.


Julie said...

Dad would take all the Zagnut bars off our hands. (What is a Zagnut bar?). I vaguely remember Mrs. Farrens' bowls of money on that extravagent dining room table candy buffet. It was silver money, right? dimes and nickels? who was more awesome than Mrs. Farrens? She also had those concord grapes growing on her fence that made for great afternoon snacking.

remember those wax lips filled with "juice"?