The True Meaning of Halloween (No, It's Not About the Candy)

Halloween's coming! In celebration of one of my favorite holidays here's an excerpt from my book app, Sleeping With the Laundry: Notes from the Mommy Track:

The True Meaning of Halloween

It has taken all of my thirty-something years on this earth plus the birth of my first child to realize that Halloween is not about candy. Nor is it about having the cutest kind in a costume — which I do. Nor is it about gorging yourself until you can’t see straight — which I do. It was finally this year as an adult with a child going door to door with friends and their children that I realized Halloween is about saying hello to your neighbors. Though this revelation is good, true, fine and worthy of discussion, I still find that the Halloween candy is the subject we all want to talk about.

I’ll start by saying I’m not a Trick or Treat saint. My husband and I have a terrible habit of purchasing and eating all our Halloween candy several times before October rolls around. This year, when those orange and black specially wrapped bags of candy first showed up on the shelves – round about July 4th – we were suckers and bought several.

Join me as I read this piece for
host Lee Hay's Halloween Special
on our NPR station for the
Around Cincinnati Show!
Date posted soon!
 “We are buying this for the children,” we said, and believed it while we were still in the store. When we were home and sitting in front of the television, it was a different story. My husband asked, (or maybe it was me), “Is the candy open yet?” “No? Oh, never mind, since it isn’t open.”

Several food commercials later the question was, “Are you going to the kitchen to get a glass of water? Just bring the bag. We’ll just set it here.” As a pseudo reforming sugar addict I should have known better. “Just one,” leads to several nights of pleasure with a plastic wrapper. Finally, we were fighting to see who could wear the bag on their head just to be close to the chocolate smell. Within a week we were back at the store in the candy aisle looking guilty. With training and complete lack of discipline this cycle can be repeated at least ten times before Halloween night arrives, with a last minute scramble to get more candy before the kiddies get to the door.

The beauty of a bite-size bar is that is allows you to live the lie. The lie that I am not a candy-bar-eater, I have never eaten a whole candy bar in my life. I was explaining this at a girlfriend’s baby shower recently, when the room was suddenly silent, everyone was looking my way. I could see them sizing up my Baby-Ruth-loving figure in disbelief that I’d never eaten a full size candy bar before. With the whole room’s attention I had to confess, “OK,” I said. “I have eaten 20 bite-size bars in a single setting. And that may be the equivalent of five king-size-momma bars, but I have never purchased and eaten the checkout aisle version.” I have standards.

One friend added that with all the work it took to open twenty wrappers I had probably burned them off anyway. Everyone nodded and conversation returned to a normal pitch after my friend’s gracious save.

This year, since our son Wendell was over one, we decided it would be a good time to parade him around the neighborhood. At Old Navy I had found a sweet fleece blue dragon costume complete with ridges along the hood above the head to the tail. Our neighbors Bill and Missy, who have a son Emery the same age, got the same outfit so they could be twin dragons. They made a cute pair. Granted, a few people thought they were blue chickens.

That night, we met some of our neighbors for the first time. Usually we all speed around in our cars and never visit with one another. But on Halloween we visited door to door, exchanged names and discussed how adorable our little blue chickens were.

Wendell was only able to handle an hour or so of walking around, so we got to meet Princesses, Harry Potters and Pok√©mons that came to our door. About nine o’clock, I realized that if 500 kids don’t come in the next few minutes, I would be forced to eat all the remaining Nestle Crunches myself. By then I had reached saturation from the aforementioned multi-month gorgefest. So the last kid that came to the door got the whole bowl dumped in his bag. It’s easy to be good when you are stuffed with the pickings from your one-year-old’s pumpkin.

My Blue Dragon grew up into a Ninja! Go Figure.

Are you thinking about the holidays already too? For more holiday stories, check out Chapter 19 of Sleeping With the Laundry, "Keeping the Special in Special Occasion" and let me know what you think. Here's a link to it on the Apple store:
Sleeping With the Laundry
Sale Today! $.99
Now Available on iPhone and iPad!

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