Pillowcases slung over our shoulders like Santa Claus we jogged to the furthest point of our planned route then worked our way back down, a determined trot from house to house, up to the door, hold out the sack, then back to the sidewalk, no time to assess the loot or pause for idle chit chat, the goal a sack so heavy-laden, so lumpy and distended, you could scarcely manage to drag it home at evening’s end.
We would dump our take on the living room floor, my sisters and I careful to maintain the boundaries between our three piles. We categorized, kept meticulous count and swapped for favorites. Mom maintained a watchful eye over the proceedings; she confiscated the homemade popcorn balls in saran wrap, the wax paper bags of cookies and any other suspicious-looking items. She said it was for our safety, just in case.
Despite how impressive my haul had seemed on Halloween night, it was all gone in a matter of weeks, while my older sister’s lasted well past Christmas. She might toss me a stale piece of taffy now and then, hard enough to crack a tooth. But she hung onto the good stuff, chocolate candy bars and all-day suckers, to slowly savor in my presence.
“Your sister doesn’t have to share,” Mother would say. “She saved hers. You didn’t.”
It was a mystery how quickly my candy disappeared. I never remembered eating that much. It wasn’t until I became a mother and inevitably found myself raiding my children’s candy stashes, that the likely truth dawned; my older sister must have had better hiding spots, ones our mother never found.
Our father used to help us with Halloween costumes that were like no one else’s. I was a can of orange soda one year: a sturdy, cardboard cylinder, painted to Pop art perfection, hung from my shoulders to below my knees. I had a bottle cap for a hat, which made no sense, other than it went with the soda pop theme. The stiff, cardboard “can” was fine for the school parade, but afterwards I was sent to the principal’s office until my mother could bring a change of clothes, because I couldn’t sit down in it and hadn’t worn much underneath. Another year I was a bumblebee with handcrafted gossamer wings and then there was the year my younger sister and I were Thing One and Thing Two from The Cat in the Hat, with dyed blue mops on our heads and red long johns. No store bought costumes for us.
Halloween was the best . . . houses and candy for miles.
For another ghoulish post, see: Superheroes - Halloweens Past