Halloween night in an empty nest home is very different from all the Halloweens that have come before. There's the obvious stuff like not having to deal with emergency reattachments of antennae or tails with duct tape and a prayer. Or contending with the daughter who every year blows through three costume choices in the week leading up to Halloween and then, like clockwork, HAS to change again half an hour before departure and goes out as a rag-tag Black Cat/Ballerina/Smurf. We don't have to worry about the dreaded breaking of an overstuffed goody bag in the middle of a dark sidewalk. Or worse, the inevitable lost crown that means a parent (not me) has to backtrack a block or two through the oncoming stream of trick-or-treaters rushing like spawning salmon to get to the next house.
Of course we're missing out on some good stuff, too, like watching in awe as our kids spaced themselves out in the living room, each with a mountain of candy between their outstretched legs, making shrewd trading deals with one hand and deftly sorting out the tiny boxes of raisins and granola bars with the other. And these days we can't partake in every parent's real Halloween thrill--- (no, it isn't seeing our kids in their adorable costumes, or the look on their little faces as they get their treats at the neighbor's houses) ... it's secretly digging into their stash after they've gone to bed. (My favorite are Butterfingers. And Twix).
But thankfully that's all safely ensconced in memory, and we have plenty of snapshots should memory ever fail us. The new Halloween is easier on our waistlines, and a lot less stressful. As I'm sure you know, the flow of trick-or-treaters on any given year is as variable as the weather patterns. You'll get several years in a row with maybe one or two tiny princesses and a lone ninja coming to the door, and then again, you can get eight inches of snow in October. This seasonal variation wreaks havoc with the candy shopping. This year I grabbed a few small bags of candy at about 5pm last night, going on the theory that we'd be getting minimal, if any visitors...for one thing I think they officially canceled Halloween on the island due to the power outages over the weekend. I dumped the candy unceremoniously in a little basket. I didn't even bother to mix it up. I figured I'd be throwing it out after dinner. But I should have known better. Nobody can cancel Halloween. It started somewhere around 5:15 and by 5:45, in a mild panic, I looked down at our basket. It had just a handful of Hershey's Kisses rattling around the bottom. I called to my husband and told him he'd have to run out and get some more, quick. Then I envisioned the next group to arrive, maybe a gaggle of hulking teens with black hoods thrusting cavernous pillowcases at me. I envisioned having to dole out a single Kiss to each one. They'd probably kill me. I decided I'd be the one to go out.
That's when the real Halloween fun began. As I backed out of the driveway, my brake lights illuminated several groups of kids and their parents in the middle of our street. It was then I realized I was in for quite a ride. Trying to drive to the nearest supermarket at 6 pm on Halloween night? Pure terror. By the time I pulled into the parking lot of the store I was a quivering mass. I had inched my way through town, dodging throngs of jay-walking ghouls and goblins, gripping the wheel for dear life. My high beams were little comfort as I tried to navigate the dark streets and the unpredictable movements of hulking masses. It was only the occasional glow stick or flashing sword that helped maintain my sanity.
The Halloween candy was completely picked over. There were no little Butterfingers or Twix to be seen, it was all Blow Pops and mini boxes of Dots. We hate Blow Pops and Dots, but that's a good thing; we wouldn't be tempted if there was any left over. I grabbed it all.
At about 5 mph the trip to and from the store took a while. Finally I rounded the corner into our driveway, in tandem with a raucous pillowcase and scythe wielding group. I could imagine my husband's tension rising as the rowdy voices grew louder. I grabbed the bags, leaped into the house and we tore them open just in time to thrust fistfuls into the gaping sacks. We alternated answering the door during dinner, and things eventually subsided.
Next year I'll be right there in August when they load the first Halloween candy onto the shelves. I'll stock up. Believe me, it'll be worth it. And to cleverly avoid temptation I'll choose the blow-pops for sure, but no Dots.
I'm on my third box...They're actually pretty good.
Sue/the view from great island