NORMAN — The end of October usually signals the beginning of what I like to call “The Eating Season.” From now until February, we will be inundated with food, candy, desserts and all the champagne we can handle. But the end of October also signals the time to stand at the front door, porch light engaged, and give candy to all the cowboys, Buzz Lightyears and witches that repeat their mantra “Trick or Treat.”
I’m a country mouse, meaning the houses in my neighborhood growing up didn’t share fences. We shared fields and highways. So Halloween usually meant a car ride to town If I had any hopes of getting my tiny little hands on some candy.
As a kid, I remember planning the perfect costume was crucial. You didn’t want to be too cute and you didn’t want to be too scary. I usually played it safe. One year, I was a klutzy cheerleader. My arm was in a sling, I had bandages and bruises. Another year, I was Raggedy Ann.
No matter what costume I put on for Halloween, my mother always had trick-or-treating rules. As an adult, I see now that they were pretty logical ones, too. As a kid, I thought her Halloween code of ethics were just plain torture.
Rule No. 1 was that before we ever left the house, we had to have a nutritious dinner. You’ve no idea how agonizing it is to be forced to sit at the dinner table eating corn on the cob when you knew the streets in town were paved with candy. Snickers. Kit-Kats. Milky Ways. Nope. First it was a glob of meatloaf or a sliver of chicken. I learned real quick though that the faster I ate, the faster we got to go get that candy.
Rule No. 2, and quite possibly the most excruciating of all the rules, was that no matter how amazing of a costume I had, I had to wear a coat. Simply heartbreaking. How was anyone going to see the intense subtly of my Casper the Friendly Ghost costume while I was wearing a coat that only a few short weeks ago could have been found in the Sears & Roebuck catalog?
The third and final parental rule of Halloween was that we could only go to the houses of people we knew. At first, this was a hard candy to swallow, but then I realized that pretty much everyone in town was someone we knew. If I wasn’t related to them, then we knew someone that was. The glory of small-town life.
This year, I’ll have no rules to follow. That’s one of the great things about growing up and buying your own house. I won’t have to eat dinner before handing out candy. I won’t have to wear a coat, either. But you can guarantee the kids that have to wear protection from the elements will see a little extra something in their treat bags. Just my way of saying that I understand what it’s like to be a kid.