My husband was the family treat dealer this year.
His spot was our front porch, which he atmospherically manipulated using Pandora’s Halloween playlist. He positioned a wicker chair facing the street, with a view of our flaming pumpkins and a red wagon full of cavity triggers at his feet. If Candy Land had a Mafia, he was its Don Corleone.
Kitten after ninja warrior after disaffected teenager greeted him at his perch and asked the same question: “How many bite size poor nutritional choices can we take, Mr. Diaz?” He gave each the same answer: “One.” A limited offering, despite the mountains of refined sugar within reach. It was his way of establishing control, then maintaining it, all with a single syllable.
It is so annoying that he can accomplish so much by doing so little.
By the time Halloween sputtered its last, preservative-laden breath, I was soaking wet. It wasn’t just the rain that had me looking like a dog dressed as a mother. I had been sweating from the moment the clock struck 4:30.
I object to a holiday that is scheduled to begin before I leave work. I object to a holiday that depends upon my ability to convince children they need to accessorize. I object to a holiday that gives those same children the satisfaction of self-inducing a sugar coma in my plain, permissive view.
The aforementioned Mr. Diaz has already cornered the market on efficient ways to harness the Halloween monster. I see zero possibility of him giving up his role as the front man for the Foreside’s candy cartel. That leaves me with no choice but to spit-ball my own end-runs around the holiday.
There are details to be ironed out with all of these options, sure. But I believe any one of them improves upon a tradition that indulges both “sexy kittens” and “Sour Patch zombies.” Here are my ideas for a Halloween that does not involve Pinterest or industrial-sized bags of Tootsie Pops:
1 — Buy a multi-tiered cake for each of your children. Arm them with a fork. Give them an encouraging look and a bib.
2 — Tie a brick weighing at least 25 pounds to your hip. Run a marathon.
3 — Go to an ATM. Close your eyes. Punch numbers. Collect whatever cash the machine spits out. Find the nearest paper shredder. Insert the cash.
4 — Set a timer for one minute. Change your children into clothes that must be buttoned by your feet, zippered with your teeth, and layered with one frilly apron or topped with a face mask three sizes too small. If you cannot change them all before the timer dings, smash your face into a window.
5 — Cry for three hours. Urge your children to do the same.
6 — Conduct a survey during breakfast. Force each child to identify the person or animal that most terrifies them. A few days later, take the children for a walk where they encounter their survey answer at unpredictable intervals. Make sure to take the walk at night, and near minimal street lights.
7 — Take a roll of toilet paper, a can of shaving cream, and a dozen eggs. Put them aside. Retrieve them when your son moves into his first apartment. Present them with a card that says “call me if you forget the intended purpose of any of these items.”
8 — Go to the mall. People-watch for three hours.
9 — Find a pumpkin. Hollow it out. Stick your head in it.
10 — Leave the house with your children, dressed in whatever clothes they were wearing when they changed out of their pajamas in the morning. Put a plastic bucket in their hand. Teach them how to say, “This year, I’m going as irony and passive-aggression.”
I recognize that some of you view Halloween as another way to light up Facebook. I understand that still others appreciate Halloween as an opportunity to express family unity by dressing as the entire suite of Marvel superheroes or Disney princesses. To you, I say the following:
If you say “thank you,” Mr. Diaz will give you a second piece of candy.