Want vs. need

Do you have wonderful memories of Halloween and trick or treating? Think about it.

What was once regarded religious honoring those who has passed on before us, it has now become just a fun thing. I, myself, do not decorate with witches and jack-o'-lanterns, but I do love to decorate for fall with pumpkins and bright fall flowers. Next month I will add my collection of turkeys and be ready for Thanksgiving. I feel that most trick-or-treating and doing crazy stuff is okay if it does not get out of hand and is fun and not harmful or destroys property or traumatizes little kids. If we just keep it fun and not those bloody, awful costumes, it is just another kid holiday with lots of candy and food that destroy teeth and make them overactive.

I remember when the little grandchildren came to Daddy's house for Halloween. They would all yell, “Trick-or-treat!" Daddy responded by dropping a gourd in their sacks. They laughed with glee. But that wasn't what they wanted and told Daddy so. He would tell them, “Well, you said trick or treat ... so this is a trick." They will never forget those wonderful tricks Daddy played on them.

I wonder if any kids really would know how to play a trick if there were not treats involved. Those little kids in costume are a joy to watch because they really think they are so scary and spooky.

Not a Halloween goes by that I don't think of all the fun we used to have at Grandma's Halloween parties. What fond memories. Everyone in the neighborhood was invited ... and came. Everyone, old and young, came in the funniest costumes they had concocted themselves. There were absolutely no ghoulish costumes that would have terrified little kids. They were just funny, original costumes made from whatever we could scratch up. Witches and ghosts were the scariest the costumes ever were.

My oldest sister did not have delightful memories of Halloween like I do. When she was very young (before I came along), she attended one of Grandma's annual parties. She was frightened out of her wits by our great-uncle who was wearing a mask. Even when he removed the mask, Marjorie was frightened. She never forgot that early incident, so she always hated Halloween. Oh, she enjoyed the kids coming by for their treats and she decorated for fall, but she didn't like those ghoulish, bloody, grotesque costumes. I don't care for them either, but I do enjoy Halloween.

One year Grandma was a ghost at her own party. When people arrived at their house and approached the door to knock, Grandma came around the house from behind the mulberry tree and nearly scared the daylights out of us kids. As scared as we were, we KNEW it was Grandma and giggled and giggled. What fun!

At Grandma's parties, we played the traditional games like bobbing for apples, catching the apple on a hanging string, and all kinds of relays. There was always a “spook house” which was nothing compared to the ones nowadays. Ours was made up of a table covered with plates holding things like cooked spaghetti, peeled grapes and harmless things like that for us to identify while blindfolded. Of course, they planted thoughts in our minds about worms and cat eyes, etc. After a few years we knew the tricks and passed the “fear” on to the little kids to scare them.

Back then, treats were homemade popcorn balls (wonderfully and carefully made especially for us), apples, plain and rolled in caramel and nuts, an occasional sucker or bubble gum. Now homemade treats are unacceptable, so we give out candy or pencils or other wrapped and sealed things. It is so fun to answer the door to the little goblins and hear their laughter and compliment them on their cute costumes. It is always commendable to see their parents at a safe distance to protect them from strangers.

It pleases me that so many churches and businesses celebrate Halloween for our youngsters to keep them safe so they don't have to go door to door in strange neighborhoods to collect goodies, and I think the kids really like the organized fun.

When I was a kid in the country, we didn't trick-or-treat from door to door. We heard after the fact of mischief in town by “older boys” like turning over out-houses and blocking streets and possibly egging houses or the school, but no real harm was done and no one was hurt.

We had a party at school after last recess. We enjoyed punch and cupcakes to celebrate. We decorated the windows for autumn for the annual box supper to raise money for Christmas treats for everyone. The program always centered around the Halloween or autumn theme.

By request, I am repeating this easy dessert. My sister in Albuquerque sent it to me and says is “easier than pie” but just as good.

Pumpkin Dessert

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin

1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 yellow cake mix

1 1/2 sticks butter

Combine all ingredients except cake mix and butter. Spread evenly in 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Mix dry cake mix with softened butter until it resembles corn meal. Spread evenly over pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle with chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans) if desired. Bake in 350-degree oven for one hour until knife inserted comes out clean. Good served with a dollop of whipped topping.

And another recipe I have to make this time of year just because ...

Traditional Caramel Popcorn

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup butter or oleo

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup white corn syrup

one teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

7 1/2 cups POPPED corn

Bring brown sugar, oleo, salt and corn syrup to a boil. Continue to boil for five minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add soda and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Pour over popped corn in large roaster. Bake at 200 degrees for one hour, stirring and turning every 15 minutes.

Have a safe and enjoyable Halloween and make some happy memories.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.

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