Ok, I’ll admit it: I’m a little bit crazy when it comes to my Halloween rituals. The decorations must be up by the first week of October; there must be pumpkin soup and pumpkin muffins on Halloween night; and the candy blend must be 90% chocolate and 10% awful sour things that only kids like, with a few spider rings and rubber rats thrown in for good measure. Oh, and recently, there has been one more thing, one more tradition that I have added to my already lengthy Halloween list: a few days after Halloween, usually about the time all the decoration are put back into their boxes, I must freak out and start throwing all of the leftover candy into the trash can.
It’s not what you think: I’m not one of those mothers who only lets their kids have sugar twice a year, or even one of those mothers who carefully doles out one single piece of candy a night for weeks after the big event. And I’m definitely not one of those mothers who stockpiles little toys and prizes for her kids to “buy” with their candy on Halloween night, thereby severely limiting their sugar haul. On the contrary, my philosophy is: you earned it, you eat it. All of it. All you want. All you can hold. All you can keep down. Live it up, is what I like to say.
At least, that’s what I like to say for the first day or two, when everybody is still flush with candy wealth, and the chocolate induced serotonin stream is still flowing strong. That phase, however, never seems to last very long; soon the “good” candy has left everybody’s bags, and before you know it even the “ok”; “pretty good”; and “not so good” supplies are running low. Suddenly, all of the kids start looking at each other like they’re partners in some Sierra Madre gold mine, and the bonds of friendship that had formed so easily back in the heady nights of “M&M’s for everyone” begin to evaporate wispily in the harsh morning light of “Sweet-Tarts for none.” It is remarkably the same problem that most people seem to have with cocaine: there is, at once, too much and never enough of it.
It is when we are there, deep in the throes of the “never enough” stage, when the fighting, the bickering, the squabbling, the accusations, the denials, the trials in absentia, the frontier justice, the looting, and the vigilantism all come to a head, that I finally lose it and start throwing every piece of candy I can get my hands on into the nearest trash can. It wouldn’t be so bad if the candy they were fighting over was worth it, but c’mon: mixing it up over a handful of Bit O’ Honeys, Mary Janes, and Jolly Ranchers? What’s next: arguing over the giblets at Thanksgiving? Agitating to lick the stuffing spoon at Christmas?
Of course, in their defense, it’s not always the B-list candies that they’re fighting over: occasionally, once it’s all been tossed spitefully into the trash can by yours truly, they will see a Twix or a Kit Kat that somehow got overlooked, sitting like a golden nugget amidst the butter wrappers and baloney rinds. It is then, hopefully, that they truly feel the loss that their senseless fighting has wrought.
Nah. But that’s ok, because even if they aren’t learning a valuable lesson about trust and cooperation, then they are still learning a valuable lesson about how new Halloween traditions start: in this case, it’s the one where Mommy and Daddy get to enjoy a delicious post-bedtime treat of chocolate, with just a little sprinkling of coffee grounds and eggs shells on the side.