Recently a friend of mine posted the following on facebook:
“Considering saying screw it and letting the kids eat all their candy and deal with one day of crazyness rather than the whining because I won't let them eat it.”
She got a lot of responses and advice from various people in her life. I for one recalled my childhood habit of trying to make my candy last as long as possible. After trick or treating I would come home and organize my haul. Candies of the same kind were grouped together. Then based on the amounts of each kind I would formulate a plan on what order they would be eaten in and which ones I would allow my mom to poach when she came sniffing around my stash.
On thing my mom did has influenced me to this day. My mother felt that the worst type of candies were lollypops, gummies, and anything else that was hard or sat in your mouth for an extended period of time. Her logic was that due to the duration those candies spent in your mouth they were more likely to give you cavities so she would take them from me. She did this so matter-of-factly that I never complained. The result is that I’ve never really liked those types of candies. In fact I now view those types of candies, especially anything with gummi and fruit flavor, as old people candy. Recently when my wife filled our candy jar, which I always fill with M&Ms, with fruity gummies I came home and had about the same reaction I had when she came home with Daniel Radcliffe’s haircut. “What are these? Why do we have old people candy in here?” (Now I know, the mere fact of having a candy jar makes me an old person but that’s another deal.) I was unhappy for a day or so until my friend came over and happily started eating them. “Oh, I love these!” he exclaimed. I felt silly. I still think they’re old people candy but I didn’t realize why until my friend’s post allowed me to reflect on my mother’s approach to her children’s Halloweens.
The other thing this reflection brought me was a longing for the eager anticipation of a Halloween stash. Understand, I was the type of kid who organized his dollar bills by serial number, my candy stash was obsessively cataloged. I felt a certain sadness knowing that I may never have that kind of feeling again. I could see now why people collect wines or cars, though I’ll never have the money for those. Now I understand my friend’s vast collection of model cars. But the cars are only partially consumable and that’s part of the whole point right? The anticipation and planning of how and when to consume these things that would someday be gone with nothing but a moment’s satisfaction to show for it. I wasn’t sure what could provide that childhood feeling again., until today. You see, the other factor is that you don’t buy the candy you get on Halloween. You go out and get it for free. You go out with your friends, usually on a school night, and people give you candy. The joy of organizing, planning and consuming something you got for free far outstrips the feeling you get from things you buy. Where can we get this satisfaction as adults?
My son was baptized on Sunday and we had a small reception at our house afterwards. Unexpectedly more than one person brought beer to our house. We had about five different kinds of malty goodness in our fridge when the party ended. Of course, since we are adults now no one brought their beer gifts home with them. I had no idea how much beer was left until I opened the ‘fridge that evening. It was just like opening up that loot bag for the first time. There before me lay chocolaty stouts, malty porters, spicy reds, caramel draughts, and nutty browns. Reflexively I did a quick count of how many there were of each and formulated a plan regarding how many there were of each, what order to drink them in, and which ones could be combined to create even yummier concoctions. It turns out we can recapture the joys of our youth in unexpected places.