Halloween harvest results in cornucopia of treats
I shoved a tub of Legos and a stack of library books into the corner to clear some space, then Steven upended his plastic pumpkin and dumped about 17 pounds of candy onto the living room floor.
"My goal," he explained as he shrugged into his costume two hours earlier, "is to get enough candy to last until the Fourth of July."
It seemed like a pretty random target. "Why the Fourth of July?"
"Because that’s when everyone gives out candy at the parade, and I can get enough to last until next Halloween."
We should all have the ability to plan that far ahead.
We sat on the floor with the pile of candy between us and started to pick through the goodies.
With the possible exception of 1991, there’s no such thing as a bad Halloween. This one seemed better than most.
"Let’s sort it into piles," Steven suggested.
Flashback in time
It’s nice to see that some holiday traditions haven’t changed. More than 40 years ago, I sat at the kitchen table with my brothers and went through the same ritual, and despite the intervening years even the piles looked the same — candy bars in one, Tootsie Rolls in another. There were piles for peanut butter cups, Starbursts, licorice sticks and Skittles.
The miscellaneous pile held everything that didn’t belong somewhere else — a rock-hard chunk of Bazooka bubble gum, two jawbreakers, a tiny box of Hot Tamales and a small bag of pretzels.
The candy bar pile was twice as big as the next biggest pile, and since that pile was all M&M’s, it was like winning both games of a double-header.
Mercifully, there weren’t many suckers, which caused us to make it official — it was The Best Halloween Ever.
"Can I have a candy bar?" Steven asked.
"Sure," I answered. "I think I’ll have one, too."
He looked at me skeptically as I tore the wrapper off a Snickers bar.
"You’re having another one?"
"I’m inspecting it," I explained. "They always say you should inspect your kids’ candy when they bring it home".
"But you already inspected three of them."
Four, but I didn’t correct him.
I fought the urge to say, "I don’t want to eat this candy, but I’m doing it because I love you."
Kids today aren’t as gullible as they were 40 years ago.
I inspected some Milk Duds.
There has never been a time when we were completely out of candy in the house — a long-ignored box in a kitchen cabinet contains a collection of lint-covered Lifesavers, candy kisses from the 1980s and lemon drops sour enough to cause your face to cave in on itself.
We’ll probably never eat them, but they don’t fall under the rules usually reserved for leftovers. It seems like bad parenting to tell a child, "Not one more piece of broccoli until all that candy is gone."
Steven finished his candy bar and reached for another. I stopped him, then shot down his "but it’s healthy for me" argument by explaining that just because it’s called "milk chocolate" doesn’t mean it qualifies as a dairy product.
I let him eat the pretzels while I inspected a bag of Sugar Babies.
I didn’t feel guilty about having an 8,000-calorie bedtime snack, but I knew it was probably a good thing that my annual physical was still a month away.
It could take that long before my blood sugar falls below a level that warrants coverage in the New England Journal Of Medicine.
As the neighbor’s yard lights started to go out, we scooped the candy back into the plastic pumpkin, miscellaneous pile first, candy bars on top so they’d be more accessible.
While "out of sight, out of mind" would have been a better plan for storing the remaining 16 pounds of candy, we planted it squarely in the middle of the kitchen table.
I didn’t have the heart to tell Steven that his candy probably won’t last until the Fourth of July.
At this point, Thanksgiving is doubtful.