“For good skeletons are we
And we’re dying to be free –
‘All flesh be gone’
Save your dry and joyous shout
For the day poor skeleton steps out”
Today is All Hallows Eve. We carved our jack-o-lanterns this afternoon, and around 4 o’clock, after Mara’s buddy Gwyneth arrived, we all headed over to the house of some other friends for pizza and an ice-cream cake. Dinner and dessert dispatched, we all hit the sidewalks in search of treats. Our party included six princesses, some of them fairy princesses, a tiger and a fireman.
Someday Mara will learn of the untold heaps of candy that covered the dining room table, the pillowcases and shopping bags that we used to bring home full and dragging behind us on the ground at the end of a Halloween haul. It was like purse-seining for candy. She’ll learn that there was a time before the “Fun Size” marketing ploy that attempted to convince kids that less candy was more “fun”, a time when size spoke for itself and the size was a half-foot of Baby Ruth, Snickers, Three Muskateers, Mounds and Almond Joy, and Milky Way, and a full eight inches of Butterfinger. The boxes of Milk Duds and Junior Mints rattled with a plenum and gave our bags a satisfying noisiness. One packet of candy-corn would make you sick. Rare was the household within a half mile radius of our house that did not participate. Even if there was no pumpkin lit, there would be someone with a bowl of candy inside at almost every house. The only houses we skipped were those where the porchlight was dark, the signal for “no candy here”. We skipped the Godfrey’s at the bottom of our hill, too, because they gave apples every year and given the area we had to cover before curfew it just didn’t make sense to waste any time going up a driveway where you knew the payoff would be suboptimal.
Things are not like that today. Aside from one, the bars were mostly Fun Size. A few were even those miniature Hershey bars so small that you’d never find it again if you dropped it on an Oriental rug. We had to walk past many dark porches tonight in Wallingford. Those who are available generally make it very obvious. Latona Avenue has a few houses with ghosts sprouting from the chimneys and spooky lights and decorations all over the front walkway. One man on 6th, down next to the freeway, puts up a warehouse full of brightly lit and sound-accompanied stuff for every holiday. But these are few and far between. We walked our kids around for an hour. We visited Tina, an old German lady who is kind to stray cats and whom we have known since we moved into this neighborhood ten years ago.
Mara considered it quite a satisfactory night to have her little round plastic pumpkin a third full. Dumped on the dining room table, the take barely disturbed the pattern of the table cloth, and yet we were glad it wasn’t more. Mara accepts the fact that she will get to pig out tomorrow — one day of suspended dental health policy — and then we’ll get rid of the rest. She cherishes the getting, but she is not too upset about the not having. She understands that this stuff is poison. It makes me gag to think of the spoils I brought home, and which, if I recall correctly, I smacked away at for days and weeks, to the consternation of my good parents (but what could they do? You could regulate daily intake in those days to spread out the damage, I think, but social custom had not yet begun to allow wholesale pitching of the booty).
Someday she will learn about the good ol’ days. I hope she’ll make a face and say, “yelcchhh. I feel so sorry for you guys”, but I rather suppose she’ll say something quite else.