Halloween candy is tricky. If you buy a bag too early, it’s hard to resist diving into it before doling it out to trick-or-treaters. Next thing you know (or at least the next thing I know, possibly my readers have better self-control) you have to buy another bag. Wait too long to buy your candy and all that’s left is the sweet orange wax (i.e., candy corn).
My Chinese-American husband isn’t a fan of holidays or spending money. We’ve compromised on the Halloween candy: one giant bag of the good (chocolate) candy from Costco. Except that twice Andy waited too long to buy it and Costco ran out. (Costco is like that. You’d better buy that ski parka in August if you really want it.) Andy was forced to buy several smaller and more expensive bags to fill my witch’s cauldron. Since then, Andy’s always gotten the candy at least two weeks before Halloween.
I caught him sneaking Reese’s more than once (when I was sneaking Almond Joys). We always had more than enough candy to hand out, though. In fact, we usually had leftovers on November 1st. By then we were sick of candy and offered the cauldron to the middle schoolers who hung out on our steps. Kids mobbed us and wiped out the cauldron in seconds.
For years, our own child neither noticed nor cared about our stash of Halloween candy. That shocked me—my siblings and I were experts at ferreting any hidden sweets in our childhood homes. But we were always hungry. Dalton, on the other hand, was (and is) exceptionally well-fed. He also spent the month before Halloween focused on his costume, the party at school, (except when he had the soul-crushing teacher Miss Queen) and his own potential candy haul.
“We have to go to the Ham’s house first,” he’d tell his posse. “They give out full-sized candy bars.”
“We should do that,” I told Andy. “Then WE would be the favorite house!”
“We are not getting into a ‘keeping up with the Ham’s’ candy war! If you start giving out full-sized bars, even more people will start driving to our neighborhood to trick-or-treat and then I’ll have to buy two giant bags from Costco.”
“Some people have two bags, you know. A regular bag and a backup bag.”
“A backup bag.”
“In case someone eats too much of the regular bag. One of my mom friends didn’t realize her son had found the candy and ate it all until she found empty bag at 4 PM on Halloween—when the neighborhood toddlers were already at her door. She frantically offered them dollar bills, but started crying because there was no candy. She cried, too, and now she always has a backup bag.”
“That’s awful! She was going to just give away money to toddlers?!”
“I feel we have very different takeaways from this story.”
“Well, we don’t need a backup bag. Baby D has never noticed the Halloween candy. We probably don’t even have to hide it.”
Andy was right. We have very little storage space in our tiny house. The Halloween candy usually went into the refrigerator in the garage, where it wouldn’t melt. Andy’s idea of “hiding” it was putting it in the crisper drawer and not telling me it was there.
A week before one Halloween, however, I couldn’t find our kid. In a house of less than 1200 square feet, this was unusual. (What’s usual was being shot with Nerf guns, or hearing a soccer ball bounce off a wall, or having to break into a Fortnite game to explain the racist/ rightwing connotations of the word “cuck” and explain it is Never To Be Used Again And No I Don’t Care if the Older Boys Use It And Yes I am Going To Have a Conversation With Their Moms.)
“Dalton? Dalton!” I called, sweeping through the house. No answer.
I found him in our detached garage, trying to hide scissors and clear packing tape.
“Whatcha doing with those, buddy?”
“What kind of project?”
“A Halloween project?”
I raised an eyebrow. Dalton wilted and admitted, “I was going to cut a small hole in the bag of candy and then put tape over it so you wouldn’t notice and then I could take a Milky Way whenever I wanted.”
“That is…surprisingly subtle and clever.”
“So I can still do it?”
“No! Of course not! Go tidy up your room, you budding evil genius.”
When Andy got home, we giggled over our kid’s ingenuity. “I guess we have to accept he’s gonna outsmart us in the end,” Andy said admiringly.
“You, maybe,” I argued. “I was a devious child competing with devious siblings for years. He won’t outwit ME.”
Andy didn’t argue. But ever since then…
…he always buys two bags of Halloween candy.