Halloween: The Kick-Off of the Holiday Candy Season

By Debbie Farmer

I didn't want to tell you this, but the fact of the matter is I dread Halloween. Oh, it's not because of the scary costumes or pumpkin carving or the arrival of fall or anything like that. Halloween is the annual kick-off of the holiday candy season which, every parent knows, lasts straight through winter and ends shortly after Easter.

Every year I plan to cut down on my family's windfall of candy by taking my children trick-or-treating to only five houses. Six tops. So it always comes as somewhat of a surprise when, two hours later, we find ourselves wandering up and down unfamiliar streets three towns over.

"Just one more house," they beg. "Please? I bet they have the really good candy there."

Then I watch as my children, who are usually scared of pinhead sized spiders and sleeping in the dark, charge straight through rubber witch heads, howling ghosts, and Styrofoam headstones for the sake of free candy.

Mind you, this is just the kind of at-all-costs attitude that always lands us at home with enough candy to keep everyone in a sugar coma until mid spring.

So this year, as an educated, conscientious parent, the first thing I did after sorting through the candy for potential hazards, was to stash it all in the freezer.

"Wha-at are you doing?" my daughter asked, horrified. "We can't eat frozen candy."

"Exactly."

You see, every parent knows the most important thing about holiday candy left hanging around the house is that you need some kind of a system to dole it out. Left unguarded my children wouldn't rest until every last piece was gone.

"You can eat a few pieces a day." I explained in my best take charge type of tone. "But that's it."

They were outraged.

Of course, one of the big drawbacks to being a good role model is that you're expected to adhere to your own rules. It would be both unfair and hypocritical if I ate any of the Halloween candy while they were gone.

Which is exactly why I considered the Twix bar, which I ate the next day while they were at school, more of a reward.

The same goes for the Hershey's Kisses I popped into my mouth after I folded the laundry. One for each sock.

For lunch I sampled two bags of chocolate covered raisins (more of a health food than candy, really). Then, after that, I washed down a miniature Three Musketeers bar with a pack of malt balls as a reward to myself for ironing.

Of course this would've all been fine except minutes before my children were due home from school I realized most of the A-list chocolate candy had somehow disappeared. And how, I ask you, could I explain that?

So, in desperation, I figured out a simple plan: I called my neighbor, Julie, who loves chewy candy.

"I'll give you seven boxes of Jujubes for a Snickers bar and a package of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups," I hissed into the phone.

"Toss in a few Tootsie Rolls and it's a deal."

Then I called Ellen next door, who likes gum, and traded a pack of Jawbreakers for two bags of peanut M & M's.

Luckily, life being what it is, everyone's A-list candy is different. Which means with a little ingenuity I'll be able to restock my children's candy supply before they get home.

Oh, sure, there's a message in here somewhere.

Maybe it's that parents shouldn't implement rules they can't follow. Or maybe it's that holidays should be celebrated in another, less tangible, way. Or maybe, just maybe, it's that parents should stick to eating only the candy no one in the family will miss.

Whatever the reason, I can't worry about it now. I only have five minutes to exchange seven packets of candy corn for three rolls of Lifesavers, then trade-up for a half-dozen Pixy Stix which should just about equal the one Butterfinger bar I accidentally ate while walking down the driveway to the mailbox.

I'm just praying that Easter comes early this year.


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