I dread Halloween.
As a kid, I loved it. I got to stay up late, run around in weird clothes, pound on people’s doors and get gobs of candy. Being the oldest of seven kids and living in Detroit, my family hauled in enough candy to sink the Good Ship Lollipop. Of course, my mother controlled it like Ebenezer Scrooge but due to her frugality we ate Mars Bars way into December.
It’s now my turn to be the Ebenezer Scrooge of the candy bowl but, sadly, Halloween has become my yearly visit from Jacob Marley. Oh, I can handle the brouhaha of classroom parties and Halloween parades. I can manage the costumes, the pumpkin carving and the dang holiday rarely landing during the weekend. But my dog would make a better candy sentry than I do.
It’s not my fault. I come from a long line of sugarholics. My family makes things like M&M Salad and chooses restaurants based on the dessert menu. We eat sweets for enjoyment, escapism, celebration or simply because it’s a day ending in “y”.
My genetic pre-disposition for sugar creeps up on me when I’m bored. And motherhood, although wonderful and soul-sustaining and all that jazz, can be a little mind-numbing. When the monotony of washing dishes or folding laundry or reviewing multiplication tables gets to me, I start snooping in the pantry for stray chocolate chips.
As such, I don’t keep much sugar in the house. It creates a façade of self-control appropriate to a mother of three children. But every October, when my kids don masks and costumes, my masquerade is over. They return with the candy bowl and I return to being a seven-year-old with impulse control issues.
My main problem with Halloween candy is the packaging. I can be reasonable about a whole candy bar. That is something to save for after dinner or split with my kids. But those itty-bitty packages? It doesn’t seem like a big deal to have one before lunch…and after lunch…and after the one I had after lunch. It’s death by inches and those inches inevitably show up around my waist.
My children are entitled to their Halloween fun, but meeting my chocolate-covered demons with honor has proven problematic.
One year, after moaning through a three-hour bellyache, I had my husband, whose family makes salad out of lettuce, take the candy bowl to work. I thought I was acting responsibly. My children thought I was acting like a traitor. I still don’t think they’ve forgiven me.
One year, I had my husband hide the candy bowl. Unfortunately, no one spends more time in our house than I do. I know every dusty nook and crowded cranny. So, when I was desperate for a York Peppermint Batty, I logically deduced the most likely hidey-hole and slipped into a sugar-induced coma.
Currently, our solution is to have my husband drive the candy bowl around with him. This approach works best. Every morning, the candy drives away and every night it returns. I’m not proud of this. However, treating their trick-or-treats like controlled substances is better than losing control completely.
Still, I am always delighted when we get to the last box of Milk Duds so I can wear the mask of a mature mother again.
This column first appeared in the Battle Creek Enquirer in 2007. My husband may not drive around with the Halloween candy bowl anymore, but I’m still a fool for Peppermint Battys.