The trick about today’s treats

“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.


Mara puts the finishing touches on her jack-o-lantern.

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.


A pretty pink party setting out for confectionary wealth. They have no idea.

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.


Lily and Mica, at top of stairs, lead the way as Mara and Gwyneth race to catch up. The man came to the door in a mask that sent Mara and Gwyneth practically tumbling back down the stairs to get away.


9 Responses to “The trick about today’s treats”

  1. 1 jstwndrng October 31, 2009 at 23:21

    My wife points out that there is no ‘a’ in musketeers and wonders if I know what a musket is. Pint taken. Oops. I mean…never mind…let it stand.

  2. 2 Joelle November 1, 2009 at 13:13

    It’s nice to see that little kids are still content to dress up as “tame” characters such as princesses and firemen. Our house seemed to see only Vampires and Zombies yesterday. Although there was one charming purple dinosaur who came to the door.

    • 3 jstwndrng November 1, 2009 at 14:25

      Thanks for reading and for commenting, Joelle. Yes, the princess and firemen ages are easy to love. But I will still find it adorable when Mara wants me to adjust the plastic hatchet in her back. “And squeeze a little more gore back there, please, dad.”

  3. 4 Louis November 2, 2009 at 03:34

    Enjoyed very much this posting on Halloween back home.

    How come there was never a d´Artagnan bar?

  4. 5 Kip November 2, 2009 at 16:14

    Looks like a good time was had by all! In our little world, it was fascinating to have all the younger kids come by before dark (when we went out with the younguns)in the more tame outfits, and after dark the older kids came out in the scarier, vampire-zombie-Jason type stuff. You could tell some of the olders were really just out for the candy….and really, can you blame them?

    And as an aside….I long for the days of normal size candy bars this time of year, but since I am now buying them…FUN SIZE FOR ALL! And to all a good night!

  5. 6 Jeni November 2, 2009 at 20:39

    The collective in pink is astonishingly cute. Precious times…

  6. 7 jstwndrng November 3, 2009 at 10:55

    Louis – Good question I never thought of. Maybe his musket had too many buttons and the pocket on the wrong side.

    Kip – We don’t get any trickortreaters. We live on a hill that leads only to a dark street. It’s spooky enough down there, but the candy take is virtually zero. We buy the fun size, but if any kid comes to the door we make them take half the bowl.

    Jeni – I love that — “astonishingly cute”. Well put.

  7. 8 Ben F November 3, 2009 at 23:44

    All streets in Alaska seem dark at this time of year and the majority of streets do not possess a “street” light. Ours is not different. While the Cul-de-sac seems to discourage trick-or-treaters, it doesn’t hold back the occasional Morman missionary or Jehovah’s witnesses. Emily and Jack were a doctor and “Captain America” respectively. They both hauled in about as much as Mara, both were tumbled down the walk backwards by a scary mask at the door as was their more royal cousin. However, unlike their cousin, (at least I suspect), Jack and Emily left homeowners everywhere in fits of laughter as they either tried to convince people to stop smoking or accept Christ as their Savior.

    I am not myself given to preaching by door knocking, so I suspect they have acquired this habit from the Mormons. At one point as he was running back to the car, (it was -10 degrees) Faith said he shouted back to the house, “I love you!…..ooops , I, I, I didn’t mean to say that, I meant goodbye!”.

    • 9 jstwndrng November 4, 2009 at 10:42

      Ben, this is adorable. A diminutive Captain America running into the frigid night with — oops — benevolence on his lips for all mankind.

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