Technically, I’m only 54. In three days I’ll be 55, and while I’m fairly optimistic about being around to celebrate the dubious honor of turning double nickels, I’m positively giddy with excitement that Halloween is tomorrow. Seriously!
It all started when I was a little girl living in Chicago. When the days turned chilly on their way to being outlandishly cold, the leaves turned crayola shades of gold-tinged brown and yellowed butter, and the days fell into nights starting in the late afternoons, my friends and I knew Halloween was just around the corner. While everyone else obsessed about costumes, I combed through my mother’s collection of used grocery bags or tattered pillow cases for the perfect receptacle to hold all the popcorn balls, bubble gum, tootsie rolls, and other candy treasures I planned to collect. I didn’t care what I wore Halloween night; I only cared that, except for the one box of chocolates we bought MoM every Mother’s Day, and the loot I was allowed to collect on Halloween, there was never any candy in our house.
DaD would occasionally try to circumvent MoM’s authority and bring home some sweet bit of contraband he bought at one of the big box stores he sold electronics to. But, it never lasted past the day it arrived, and I had to share it with sweet-toothed starved brothers and a father! To be fair, MoM did buy exactly one 6 bottle carton of Diet Rite Cola every week or so. . . .I just never remember drinking any of it, but by the time she went back to the grocery store the following week, the bottles were mysteriously empty and patiently sitting in the cardboard carrier to be returned for small change credits. Hmmmmmm.
But back to Halloween. In my childhood neighborhoods, both Chicago and Phoenix, there were only two important strategies regarding Trick-or-Treating–how long could you stay out, and who in the neighborhood was handing out the full-size Hershey bars this year? Once the sidewalks started emptying, it was time to head home, dump our booty in guarded piles, and start serious trade negotiations with Older Brother and easy persuasion with Younger Brother (who was 5 years younger). Amassing popcorn balls from Younger Brother was easy since his front teeth hadn’t grown in yet. Being a chocoholic meant trading a lot of Butterfingers and Malted Milk Balls for the chocolate bars I coveted.
Before the Halloween sugar buzz wears completely off, it’s my birthday! It’s a veritable love fest all day, as friends, teachers, acquaintances, and even strangers congratulate you once they know it’s your birthday. I feel special all day, and can’t wait for my birthday party even though everyone I grew up with had the identical party! A white tablecloth drapes over the dining room table with a big round birthday cake in the center, topped with miniature figurines and candles. Nearby is the Pin-The-Tail-On-The-Donkey poster, taped to the wall. (I really sucked at that game–no depth perception here whatsoever.) Before the last child leaves, we will have played “Duck, Duck, Goose” and it’s taken me years to realize there’s no way to win the game.
Instead of planning my trick-or-treat route now, I roast the pumpkin seeds from the pumpkins that Daughter #1 comes over to carve. She’s 25, but I love that she still treasures the tradition and races to the door to admire the little and not-so-little trick-or-treaters and hand out candy. (There’s not much Halloween in her condo complex.) I’m proud to say that our house is always considered a “quality” candy house by the neighborhood ghosts and goblins. I’m celebrating my birthday this year by going to the Phoenix Suns’ opening season home game against the Lakers–Go Suns! The office has scheduled a special staff meeting the morning of my birthday. Again, hmmmmmm. And Daughters #1 and #2 have been corresponding long distance in order to put together their birthday wishes. Not to be outdone, Husband and I already bought my birthday present together–hey, it fits and I love it!
Thinking about it, I don’t know why MoM let us hang on to our personal stash of Halloween candy until the last few pieces were stale and forgotten, but I like to think it’s part of that Halloween-Birthday mystique I remember and still treasure today.