I’ve been out and about quite a bit during the past week and I’m a little bewildered by the merchandise for multiple holidays that’s in the stores right now. I’ve been seeing Halloween items since August, but now there are Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations too. I can only imagine what a headache this is for the store managers…and how confusing it must be for young children.
When I was a girl, Halloween costumes and decorations didn’t appear in stores until October 1st. Thanksgiving items would wait until Halloween was over, and Christmas shopping began the Friday after Thanksgiving…Black Friday, it was called. There was a clear boundary between holidays and each one was exciting because we had the anticipation of waiting for them to arrive on our calendars as well as in our stores.
It’s time for Halloween and the other holidays can just wait their turns. For me, Halloween has always been about three things…choosing and carving a pumpkin, dressing up like someone else, and then there’s the candy. I’m not sure which I like better. On second thought, it was definitely the candy.
When we were kids, my brothers and I would each get to pick out a pumpkin and then we would spread newspapers over the kitchen table so we could carve them. I would draw different face ideas on paper until I decided what kind my pumpkin would have that year. After that, it was time to scoop out the goop and begin carving. There’s nothing like holding a big handful of stringy, seedy, slippery pumpkin guts!
My favorite costume was a witch, but over the years I was also a gypsy, a hobo, a princess, a hillbilly, a baseball player, a cowgirl, and a girl from the 1950’s with a poodle skirt and saddle shoes. How fun and charming it was to transform ourselves into someone else for one night a year!
Halloween meant trick-or-treating with our cousins up and down the country roads where we lived. It started as soon as darkness fell on Halloween night and lasted all evening…or until people ran out of candy and turned their porch lights out. My cousins and I would use a pillowcase for our candy collecting and many a year I lugged home a very heavy pillowcase full of candy and caramel apples and popcorn balls. Yum!
When we returned home, my brother and I would hand over our loot for mom and dad to do a “safety check” for razor blades and torn wrappers, and then it was time for the big dump on the living room floor so the sorting and trading for favorites could begin.
So, I’ve been celebrating Halloween for 50 years and I still consider it great fun. This year, I’m going to dress up…probably as a witch…and pass out candy. Last month for my son’s costume wedding reception, I got to practice for Halloween and dress up like a zombie!
One of the traditions we keep in my family is to pass out full-size candy rather than the little fun-size pieces. And for those who want to pass out healthy stuff I say, “Just don’t.” This is HALLOWEEN and it’s about CANDY. I still remember how disappointing it was to my children when they would receive a box of raisins or a granola bar or a microwave pack of popcorn. As my daughter said, “It doesn’t matter if there is a pumpkin on the packaging…no one wants microwave popcorn for Halloween.”
According to the National Confectioners Association, 72% of Americans prefer to eat chocolate on Halloween. And, the top 10 candies given out on Halloween are:
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
- M & M’s
- Snickers Bars
- Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars
- Kit Kat Bars
- Twix Bars
- 3 Musketeers Bars
- Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Crème Bars
- Milky Way Bars
- Almond Joy Bars
At my house, trick-or-treaters will get M & M’s or Sour Skittles this year. And in case you are wondering what kinds of characters might show up at your door this year, here are the top 15 Halloween costumes for 2014:
- Characters from the movie, Frozen
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- Book of Life movie characters
- Despicable Me
- Monster High Doll characters
- Star Wars characters
Finally, remember what I said about candy substitutes for Halloween? I will leave you with my favorite Halloween story from my own children. My son loved to trick-or-treat and he and his group of friends would go together every year well into high school. One year, when he was a teenager, he decided to be a gorilla for Halloween. I told my close neighbors to watch for the very tall gorilla and they would know it was my son’s group. When they trick-or-treated the neighbors’ houses, his friends all received candy and my son, the gorilla, was given a banana. He was not amused but I still laugh about that to this day!
Have a fun and safe Halloween and enjoy your neighbors. Next month, when the time is right, we will talk turkey about Thanksgiving!