I’m not on my best behavior in the days leading up to Halloween. I’m just not — but what a relief to confess this shortcoming, finally. Now friends and family can interpret my seasonal snarls in an appropriate way.
As pumpkin patches spring up and stores pack their shelves with sweets, I turn into a witch. No, seriously. Not the kind with a broomstick on her side, but nonetheless a nasty woman torn between warring camps: the healthy, good-for-me food and the oh-this-is-so-yummy treats. That struggle makes me a raving lunatic, irritable and resentful.
I want candy. I want it when I want it. I want it without being forced to lie about why I’m buying it or without enduring The Hubby’s self-righteous smirk. And I want it before the trick-or-treaters — or the grandchildren — get to it. Halloween is the only time I have a perfectly good excuse to buy what I know is bad for me. And to feast on it, without judgmental comments.
I suspect I’m not the only adult who looks forward to the fall, when buying Milky Way bags — or Reese’s or Snickers or Hershey Kisses or whatever gets your mouth a-watering — is a conscientious and patriotic act, like paying your taxes. Halloween offers up a free pass to closet candy eaters like me. ’Tis the season to buy your favorite clandestine confection without remorse because, in a sense, you’re helping the economy; and Lord knows our brick-and-mortar stores need support.
The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend $2.7 billion on Halloween candy this year alone. Handing it out is the top holiday activity, though you wouldn’t know that if you drove around my neighborhood, where the houses are decorated as prettily as if it were Christmas. I propose that the second most popular activity should be eating the aforementioned candy, if only to keep true to the spirit of the season. This should be taken as a sincere proposal, whether or not you plan to dress up.
Unlike donning scratchy costumes or climbing ladders to position a giant pumpkin head on the roof, eating is an activity that comes naturally. We all do it, and we do it every day. Some might even venture that we eat too much and too often — a whopping 40 percent of us are now obese — but that’s entirely beside the point. It’s Halloween, for Pete’s sake, and what can be more American than wearing a scary mask and demanding a free treat?
Anyway. Nine in 10 celebrants already buy candy, so very few of us would have to make an extra effort. Since the rank of trick-or-treaters has been thinned with false worries over poisoned candy and monsters lurking behind front doors, I think it safe to conclude that much of this candy is consumed not by children but by the purchasers themselves. Parents, grandparents — adults like me.
I have a soft spot for candy corn. Who doesn’t, right? I am such a fan of this irredeemably worthless candy that when I recently downed about half of a bowl at my 4-year-old nephew’s birthday party, The Hubby forced me to sit in a corner, more than arm’s length away from the table. I also got dirty looks from the shocked celebrants, all of whom were related to me and therefore should know (and accept) my weakness.
If and when any of my five children write a memoir, I’m certain one of them will devote a chapter to how my (occasional) immature behavior scarred them for life. Featured prominently will be my annual raid on the candy stashes they collected in their Halloween bags. Guilty as charged, but I had my reasons for stealing their Tootsie Rolls and M&Ms and pink Starbursts.
I worried about their teeth, see.