Please Pass the Body Parts

We've cornered the market on Tootsie Rolls. I hate Tootsie rolls. That's why I bought them. They'll still be in the house on Halloween.

If I buy Hershey bars or Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, they're gone. I start with just one, then two, and, suddenly, they're gone. Nothing left for trick and treaters arrive.

And, they do arrive. In droves. Whatever a drove is. We keep a tally inside the kitchen cabinet and we've gone from 134 kids to 156 to more than 200 tiny ghosts and goblins, although the count was down a bit last year.

Well, okay, some aren't tiny. Some look more like linebackers for the Bombers. But I like the little ones best. Grateful for the tiniest candy bar. Parents remind them to say thank you. They do. Tiny ballet dancers and princesses and dragons that can't believe total strangers are giving them candy and mom and dad aren't worried.

Most of the kids, afterall, live in the neighborhood, although some are trucked in from who knows where by moms who wait curbside in station wagons and vans.

Yes, we've run out of candy a couple years. One year I handed out all the spare change and apples and oranges we had while Curt went out for more candy. But kids like money, and almost anything to eat. Except coupons for food at restaurants. We bought those one year and the kids were not pleased. They even like the yellow pens I use for campaigning.

Have you noticed that the bags are getting bigger each year. Kids used to carry little pumpkins, little plastic bags. They've graduated to pillow cases and big trash bags.

Some friends won't let their kids go trick and treating, or, in fact, celebrate Halloween in any way, believing that it's downright close to devil worship. But we'll have to agree to disagree on that one, because trick and treating is, afterall, fun.

At least I always enjoyed it. Every year, year after year as a kid, I went out as a "pioneer lady," wearing some ancient, black dress that belonged to my great grandmother at one time. I realize now, it was pretty dreadful, but at age 6 or 8 or 10, it was marvelous.

No mask or wig, just the funereal dress and a paper bag. And I was off with my friends for a round of the neighborhood. No one ever stole my candy or threatened me or frightened me, although I did see mothballs on one porch and was convinced that family was out to poison every kid on the block.

Each year, every one at Longfellow Elementary took their turn parading, in costume, through all the other classrooms. Miss Sittler, Miss Visnow, Miss Hackman, Miss Carlson, Miss Zugschwerdt (were they all single?)...I told them all, year after year, just how special my dress was.

My Girl Scout troop always celebrated, too, passing paper bags around with alleged body parts in side--peeled grapes for eyeballs, pieces of raw liver. They seemed pretty real in the dark. Then we bobbed for apples and ate orange sugar cookies.

By the time my own kids arrived, I wasn't so crazy about trick and treating, although I made them costumes year after year. Spiders with long dangly arms, stuffed pumpkins, TV sets from cardboard boxes. I was eternally grateful when they started creating their own costumes and when I no longer had to accompany them on their rounds in rain, sleet, cold and dark of night.

Remember the smell of those eye-masks? And pumpkin innards? Annual visits to the local patch to choose bigger and bigger pumpkins each year. Cathy's birthday was less than a week before Halloween, so birthday parties always included all the guests carving pumpkins and toasting the seeds. What a mess.

This year, we're waiting for Cathy's own baby, due to arrive just in time for Halloween. The baby's costume, complete with pumpkin shoes, is waiting. As I write, he, or she, hasn't yet arrived. If the baby arrives on Halloween....well, I'll be with Cathy and Jonathan finding out what being a Grandmother is all about.

And I'll be stuck with a lot of Tootsie Rolls!

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