Happy Fall Festival Day! Or perhaps you know it by Autumn Celebration? I hear Harvest Day is big now, too.
The-Holiday-Formerly-Known-as-Halloween knows many names. Yet no matter what the PC-crowd or the Chicago Public School system does to twist and maim Oct. 31, I will always hold true to its sacred values and founding principles:
CANDY! LOTS OF CANDY! GIMMEE CANDY!!
I am a Halloween purist. I am also mentally about 7 years old. But I believe there is no shame in going out once a year (subject to allergies, diabetes, and dietary restrictions), and eating nothing but Kit Kats and Gummy Bears. I raid my kids' bags unabashedly. I hoard all the Almond Joys for myself. And by mid-November, I am typically about 3-5 pounds heavier.
But isn't this what makes America great?
Sending children out into the world to beg for Butterfingers and Tootsie Rolls is practically genius. It's the best example I've seen on how to circumvent those pesky child labor laws. You run those little legs as fast as they can go, from house to house, block to block for hours. The kids think they're doing it for themselves. Ha! Those suckers won't even see 10 percent of the final haul. Not with me as their mom.
It did take a few years to perfect my system. After moving away from the downtown area in 2006, I was excited to grab the double-stroller and load it up with my newly minted Trick-or-Treaters. My husband seemed equally enthusiastic, and I figured I had definitely married my equal in terms of unadulterated devotion to candy procurement.
I was quickly proven wrong.
Joe, a native southsider, viewed Halloween as a leisurely stroll around a couple of city blocks to chat with neighbors, friends, and family while showing off our adorably-costumed toddlers. There was no sense of urgency. After almost two hours, we had only hit four houses and my sons had devoured all eight pieces of candy. This was not going as planned.
As my irritability grew due to low blood sugar (I hadn't eaten in anticipation of all those Snickers), I tried to feign a certain level of maturity:
"Hey honey," I interrupted as Joe chit-chatted with close relative #52, "I'm just going to walk the boys around the block real quick. I'll meet you back here in 10, OK?"
Joe barely looked up from his conversation about Mt. Carmel football and chili recipes. Waving casually as I turned the corner, I immediately accelerated my pace, pushing that old double-stroller like a woman possessed. As we were now into the third full hour of trick-or-treating, several homeowners took pity on my boys and their nearly-empty plastic pumpkins:
"Oh you sweet things, why don't you take two?"
"My, my. You guys certainly haven't gotten a lot of candy yet. Let me help you out!"
As each resident began giving my kids entire handfuls of candy, I noticed their pumpkins were looking less pathetic. That's when I implemented my patented technique of "Dump & Dupe." That's right. I dumped their full buckets into the stroller basket and started them each anew with pitifully empty pumpkins.
And yes, I am quite aware that I will be spending much of the hereafter in purgatory.
By the time I met up with my husband a half hour later, he couldn't believe the amount of candy we had collected. I smiled, satisfied with my progress.
Just then, one of his cousins appeared hauling a wagon with two small children. The kids stuck out their plastic pumpkins and cried "Twick or Tweet!"
Joe peered into their empty pumpkins, noticed our hidden stroller stash, and then stuffed their pumpkins to the gills. I once again struggled to maintain a proper grown-up persona. Yet by the time we finally walked away, I was irate:
"What were you DOING? You gave them half of MY… er…THE BOYS'… candy!"
"Did you see what you had in there?" Joe asked. "It was almost entirely Almond Joys. Coconut is gross. But don't worry. I was careful not to give them any Peanut Butter Cups. Those things are AWESOME."
"You know, Joe," I fumed, stomping off, "It's about time you realize that Halloween isn't just about YOU anymore."
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.