Homemaking: Like stealing candy from a baby

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We have a serious problem. My wife and I love candy, and shouldn't eat it, but do far too often. We are now at the age when eating candy for a week can mean a trip to the mall to buy new clothes. And for years now, that's made Halloween not just scary, but stressful, too.

When our kids were little, we would end up eating all the Halloween candy we'd bought to give out by Oct. 31, and have nothing to give the neighbor kids. We'd then have to send our own kids out to run from house to house as quick as they could, then race home and dump their bags in our candy bowl before going back out to get their own candy.

After a few years, we solved this problem by taking away temptation and only buying candy we hated. We started with Necco wafers, which look, and taste, like colored chalk. (Necco wafers were invented in 1847, back in a time when standards were pretty low. If you had squirrel on a stick and a wooden mug of dirty water for dinner, you weren't going to be picky about snack food.)

You can build up immunity, however, and soon we got to where we actually liked Necco wafers. We settled on Baby Ruth bars, buying whole bags at a time. (The origins of the Baby Ruth bar are unclear. Started in 1921, it may be named for Babe Ruth, the baseball player. Some say it's named after President Grover Cleveland's daughter, Ruth. All of these people are long dead and forgotten, as should be the Baby Ruth, which is the kind of candy bar someone would throw in the public swimming pool when they wanted to cause a panic. This probably wasn't fair to the neighbor kids, who were learning quickly to hate Baby Ruths as much as we were, but I have always strongly believed that neighbor kids are not my problem.

We were still at risk for diabetes after Halloween, though, when our kids would bring home their 30 pounds of real candy, and then very carelessly fail to hide their candy bags very well so we could find them after they left for school. (If you haven't stolen your kids Halloween candy while they were at school, you either don't have kids or have kids who are really good at hiding stuff.)

Our children have not gone trick-or-treating for years now, so we've had little to worry about. We'd just buy terrible candy, wait until Halloween night, disappoint a lot of kids, and then toss the leftovers.

This year was different. A week before Halloween, our next-door neighbors suddenly had to go out of town. Before they packed up, they took their Halloween candy and left it on our doorstep with a note asking us to put it out on their doorstep on Halloween night.

We came home from work to find a basket full of full-size (full-size!) Heath bars, Reese's and Three Musketeers. My wife and I looked at each other, and at the same time, said, "Just one!" and grabbed one. My wife then took the basket of full-sized, tasty candy bars, and put it in the corner of the living room, covered by a blanket. If we didn't see it, we wouldn't be tempted, we figured.

Over the next few days, every time I thought my wife wasn't looking, I'd tiptoe over to the blanket-covered basket and sneak a Heath bar. I'd also notice that the Reese's peanut butter cups were starting to disappear. (I told you we had a problem, and you didn't listen.) Things were going OK, until the hurricane.

When Hurricane Sandy came through our area right before Halloween, it didn't do much damage. But out of precaution, the people who rule over such things decided to postpone Halloween for three days. The next thing we knew, our next-door neighbors were calling from Florida, saying that they would, it turns out, be home for Halloween, and could pass out their own candy. My wife and I stared at each other, mouths agape.

They probably won't notice all the mini-sized Baby Ruths in their basket when they get back. And I hope all those disappointed trick-or-treaters don't do anything stupid like throw toilet paper in their trees or soap their windows.

Kids can be kind of selfish and impulsive.


Homemaking is a column about the people, projects and pride that make a house a home. Peter McKay, a Ben Avon resident, is a nationally syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate. To see past columns, go to www.post-gazette.com. Contact him at www.peter-mckay.com.


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