Halloween frightens me. It’s not the soul-sucking, bloodthirsty, pastyfaced ghouls with fangs and ratty clothes lurking around every dark corner that scares the beejeezus out of me. Throw in three different kinds of potato salad and a little crying and you’ve got my family reunion. Its not the Hallmark Channel’s two frigging months of 24/7 sappy crappy Christmas movies with lost loves, new romances, street-wise orphans, too many rip-offs of Dickens’ Christmas Carol and happy freaking endings that starts right after Halloween. Okay, maybe it’s little of that. What really fills my soul with dread is that Halloween heralds a dizzying downward spiral of my already fragile grasp on nutritional wellbeing and potential weight loss from which I will not regain control until it’s too late to fit into a bathing suit.
This annual decline actually starts round about mid-August when the pesky Back to School merchandise is relegated to a couple small sale bins near the exit to make room for Halloween candy—piles and piles of tiny morsels. Sure, the official story is that the stores are trying to be helpful by making the Halloween treats available early, but let’s be honest. What consumer’s schedule is so jam packed that she has to make her Trick or Treat purchases 2 ½ months in advance? And for that matter, what little trick-or-treater wants candy that has been crammed is someone’s cupboard for 10 weeks (although back in the day, my young lads had been known to make a Christmas Eve snack of pastel jelly beans scrounged out of the couch cushions) We all know the target shopper here is the same one who buys 36 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to freeze for ‘later’. Check my freezer. Later came before my check to Troop 12 cleared.
Every year I swear will be different, and every year I fall into the same pattern. The first time I see the display, I mutter something about rushing the holiday season, roll my eyes in disgust and walk right by. The next time I stroll by a little more slowly. I still roll my eyes but it's more in the direction of the shelves so I can discreetly check the inventory. The third time, I casually toss a bag of the mini-Mounds bars in my cart. Coconuts grow on trees, much like fruit, and the coating is dark chocolate which studies done by people I could not pick out of a police lineup say is very healthy, so they can be considered a nutritionally smart purchase. I’ll just store them in the freezer, I say to no one in particular. There’s plenty of room since the Girl Scout cookies are long gone.
Almost before I realize what I am doing, I am buying 3 or 4 bags at a time. They are so cute and tiny, how much damage can they cause? As an added bonus, I can fill my 'novelty' giant martini glass with them -- it's a great way to add a little holiday cheer to the fabulously appointed bungalow.
For all my justification and self-bargaining, by the time Halloween rolls around, I have spent approximately $694 on candy and have exactly Zero candy to hand to the little holiday beggars. If they figure out I’m the one shoving Party Mix wrapped in cocktail napkins (with hilariously inappropriate captions that are completely lost on 8 year olds) in their plastic pumpkins, I can expect a whole lot more than shaving cream and toilet paper on my porch tomorrow morning.
Halloween is just the beginning. Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and that is one big feeding frenzy, with a goal to rouse from the post-dinner food coma in time to build a architectural triumph of a sandwich from the leftovers before bedtime. The Christmas magic starts the next day – with rounds of shopping lunches, cookie swaps, gourmet gifts, office parties, cocktail galas, Christmas brunch, lunch and dinner. This is dampened only slightly by the size 4 ‘friend’ who considers body-hugging exercise gear to be an acceptable Christmas gift. Then we have the New Year’s Eve party with tables of hors d’oeuvre, and the glittering dinner buffet. Maybe I can pull it together after Superbowl Sunday. Or not. I am not a fan of football, but golly I am a fan of the spicy, beefy, chippy dippy spread and chili and wings and cupcakes with team-colored frostings. The chances of receiving Valentine’s Day chocolates are slim, but they are ½ price on February 15th, and you know what a sucker I am for a bargain. These discount chocolates usually tide me over til the marshmallow peeps and chocolate bunnies start calling my name.
But this year will be different. I swear on a stack of size 8 jeans that were destined for Goodwill, that November first I will regain control of my own calorie intake. Tomorrow’s breakfast shall be a healthy fruit and yogurt smoothie (who knew my blender could also whip up non-boozy concoctions?). I am already looking forward to wearing smaller sweat pants Christmas morning.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you this post is a rehash of a guest column I put in the MDIslander about a decade ago. Yep, it has some original content, but is basically a rehash of the theme. Total rehash. Mmm, hash – crispy, greasy corned beef hash with a cheese omelet and grilled buttermilk biscuit. Okay, maybe the breakfast smoothie is out, but I will most definitely more than likely probably have a salad for lunch. Right after I get back from Goodwill.