This has got to be my fourth favorite holiday! The other three are Christmas, Mother’s Day, and my Birthday since people are expected to give me presents and don’t scoff at the idea.

I have such good memories, one of which, if you haven’t guessed already, I’m going to share.  Me and Christine, my best friend all through childhood, were about ten years old and were dressed up like hobos. It was our costume of choice every year, because back then it was all about the candy. The only thing  standing between us and free goodies was a plate full of fish sticks and twenty minutes worth of painted-on freckles, baggy clothes, and a sock-stuffed bandana tied on the end of a stick that we carried over one shoulder. Virtual rivers of hobos flowed between houses.

We always walked a few blocks to the rich part of town because that’s where the candy motherload was. At one mansion-like house, the creaking door was opened by a tall, thin, uniformed butler who invited us into a candlelit entry hall for “witch’s brew.” At the end of the dark hallway, long enough to swallow my whole house, was a maid bending over a steaming cauldron. Scary music played in the background, and I got the eevy-jeevies big time. Curiosity trumped fear; however, and we started down the long hallway. We could hear the cauldron bubbling as we got closer. The gray-haired maid, decked out in a black dress with white apron and cap that was not a costume, dipped a ladle into the pot and filled paper cups with witch’s brew without saying a word. She smiled and slowly handed us the cups. We weren’t sure whether to drink it or toss it in her face and run, but again curiosity won. The brew was cold and sweet and red and steaming and wonderful. We handed the empty cups back to her, too shy to be like Tiny Tim and say, “More?” She smiled and nodded, our signal to move along, the show was over. That was our treat – no candy, no apple, no stupid pencil, just the experience of surviving that long, frightening walk in a strange rich guy’s house, with a cup of steaming punch at the end.

I can’t recall the countless candy bars and other treats I got over the years, but this memory is as fresh as cotton candy. I don’t think you could get away with it anymore, though. Some pedophile would be lurking in the hallway, or the punch would be laced with something. Most kids don’t roam the streets parentless like we did back in the day, either.

Now here’s my treat to you – a poem we learned in my daughter’s preschool – it should be read with enthusiasm for best results, and clap at OUT:

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate,

The first one said, “Oh my, it’s getting late.”

The second one said, “There’s witches in the air,”

The third one said, “But we don’t care,”

The fourth one said, “Let’s run and run and run,”

The fifth one said, “It’s Halloween fun,”

Then WHOOSH went the wind and OUT went the lights and five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.

Happy Halloween!