When I was a kid, getting to Halloween meant getting to those sweet piles of candy. On the night of October 31st, you’d have enough treats to drown Richard Simmons and all was right in the world. It would be the greatest evening ever and a never-ending pillowcase filled with chocolate was your proof.
Today, we don’t wait until Halloween anymore. That’s because the outpouring of individually wrapped Heaven starts arriving at my home long before we even think of what costumes to buy. From the moment the school year seemingly starts, my kids are coming home with Willie Wonka’s Factory in their backpacks.
You rummage through their folders and pamphlets about PTA Charity Pasta Night to find little satchels tied with orange ribbons saying, “TO: Lucas G. Have a Spoooooky Halloween! FROM: Other Kid In The Class.” There’s usually a cartoon bat smiling back at you with a look that says, “Buckle up, Junk Foodie. The ride is about to start.”
You shake your head and say, “Halloween? That’s so far away. Why am I getting this now?” Then, you finish chewing the Hershey Kiss you tossed in your mouth the second you saw it. You know, the one you deemed a “finder’s fee” in your brain. The rest of the candy go into the cabinet. Halloween. Ha. So far away. How silly.
One small bag of candy isn’t enough to make me crazy, though. So what? Even two, as the next one rolls in, isn’t too much. Then three. Then four. Until finally, you have a pile of 100 pieces of candy, each separated into individual five-piece baggies, and tossed on top of one another in the bread-section of the pantry. Some of the bags have unsharpened pencils and temporary tattoos in them. Boo. I hate those bags most of all.
But whatever. It’s fine. Those tiny bags are easy to deal with. How much candy can they bring home from school anyway? It’s not like someone is showing up at my door, ringing the bell, and leaving big bags candy there too. That would be insane.
That would also be reality because that happens. It’s called “Booing”. Kids drop off mystery treats for their friends once the sun goes down. They leave ominous notes like “TO: Olivia G. Have a Spoooooky Halloween! FROM:”. They don’t sign it because it’s a mystery. That’s right. Mystery candy literally shows up at our front door. People bring us candy and we don’t even know who they are. Then, and here’s the craziest part…we eat it.
Ah good ol’ “Booing”. They also call it “Ghosting”. Ghosting is also when you stop calling someone after a date. I think about these synonyms and whether I can work a Dad Joke into them somehow as I finish chewing the Hershey Kiss that a stranger threw at my front door.
We get Boo’d repeatedly and soon the little five piece baggies are covered by larger paper baggies filled with a higher number of pieces. Now it’s sacks filled with 20 pieces of candy each covering sacks filled with five pieces of candy each. It’s like a math word problem come to life. Normally, I would ponder all of this while eating a Hershey Kiss, but I can’t ponder much of anything anymore because my stomach hurts from eating too many freakin’ Hershey Kisses.
Now, it’s finally time for Halloween. That candy-grab, at least, makes sense. You get candy on Halloween. It’s the right time. The only problem? It’s still not real Halloween. It’s “Safe Halloween.”
Yeah. Safe Halloween is an event, one week before the real holiday, where kids go to the local high school and trick-or-treat from classroom to classroom while tenth graders repeat “Happy Halloween” in that voice that tenth graders use. I always wonder if they call it “Safe Halloween” because someone is planning on throwing broken bottles at us on the real Halloween. It’s a question that we should all wonder. I know I do as I gorge myself on some of the candy bars I’ve decided to “split” with my kids.
So now, safely home after safely Halloweening, we count again. Now we have all the bags from school, the bags from Booing, and the giant pumpkin of Safe Halloween candy. It’s everywhere. Candy is everywhere. I’m at the point where I don’t even have to steal any of it from my kids anymore. There is so much candy that they can’t even keep track of it all and don’t care what you take. Bags are forgotten. Treats are fair game. Our pantry has become Lord of Flies. You can’t even see the bread at this point.
My pockets overflow with Hershey wrappers. They tumble out along the floor like product placement in a Hansel and Gretel movie. Every time I move my legs, I sound like I’m escaping from a bag of Sunchips. Simply put, there’s a lot of candy.
Then, finally, Halloween comes.
At this point, we’re expected to take these kids door-to-door to get more handfuls of the stuff that I am sick of eating and storing in my house. It’s like giving a pig a bowl of mud for his birthday. My body is already rebelling against me for this unexpected boost of sugar for the past few months. My son’s face is completely brown from Kit Kats. My life is drowning in treats. Thankfully this Halloween night sack will be our last. In total, it’s little school packs, big Boo bags, Safe Halloween haul, and real Halloween haul. My legs hurt from trick-or-treating, my stomach hurts from eating candy, but at least we’re finally done.
Then I come home to all the candy left over from our lack of Trick-or-Treaters.
With a sad feeling of defeat, I dump the bowl of untaken treats and the unopened bag we bought “just in case” into our Halloween bounty and then I begin moving furniture to make room for our new sugary housemates.
People complain about Christmas starting early? Christmas? I’ve been eating Halloween candy since the air conditioner was on. Every year is a Twilight Zone episode now where I learn a valuable lesson about too much of a good thing. You roll straight through October to overstuffed Thanksgiving Turkey and onto Christmas, where you eat full blown houses made of gingerbread. It’s how the gym industry plumps everybody up in order to work the New Year’s Resolution crowd. That’s how they get you.
Makes sense, right? I thought of that while eating a Hershey Kiss. That’s how I do all my thinking now. Happy Halloween. I have to go lay down.