The King-Sized Candy Bar Within

I took down the Halloween decorations today. Threw out the pumpkin. The big chest of costumes, barely touched, was easy to close up and put away. A silly hat, one with long flowing Rastafarian braids, was left on the top. Worn by my youngest this year, in a nod to the past, not yet bold enough to ring a doorbell costume-less.

It was nice, actually, to sit by the fire, drink a glass of wine, watch a movie. My husband and I took turns answering the door, admiring the merry makers. There were many firemen, many princesses. A few bananas. The doorbell stopped ringing at 8. And for us, at least, it was over.

Some endings come with eyes wide open. When my youngest slept in a bed without rolling out, I took down the crib for the last time, and knew, never again would a baby of mine lie and look up at the mobile, a toothless smile, tiny feet. And then when he hit a certain age, at the final elementary school clap out, I cheered furiously. And that was it, I was no longer a grade school mom.

Other endings sneak up. The camping trip, the plan to go every year, forever, fades into something more interesting, more mature, with more comfortable sleeping arrangements. The last journey to the barber with my oldest, needing my opinion, my guidance — my money — for a haircut. The middle boy and his abrupt preference for walking to town to get pizza with buddies, instead of me.

And that last time I am invited to trick or treat. To follow along behind my little ghoul, standing in the shadows, smiling, reminding him of manners, take just one, say thank you. It is the Halloween before he heads out with friends, and Silly String, shaving cream. The Halloween before candy becomes less important than running around in the dark. Being aware, even vaguely aware, that girls are running around somewhere nearby. The last trek snuck up on me. But I was lucky, it was a good one.

A few years ago now, I remember it well. We went together, just the two of us: him, in front, running and excited, me, behind, trudging along, thankful for the warm weather. We planned to meet friends, and would eventually, but this beginning of the night, shortly after dusk, was just the two of us. He was dressed as Ron Burgundy, a character from a favorite movie of his, wearing a red leisure suit and a wig. For weeks prior, I hunted for the costume. So unlike those hurried decisions made in earlier years, this costume was special. Because he loved Ron Burgundy, and I loved him. And I wasn’t sure, I couldn’t guess, how many more Halloween outfits would be purchased for my youngest boy.

The friends live just a few blocks from our house, but my son insisted we visit the mansions first. The people are so rich, he said, and the candy is so good. You won’t believe it mom, he told me.

And so I learned. I discovered. All that my son knew about mansions. And how to become one.

They were not in one certain section of town, the mansions. Instead, he pointed them out along the route. I saw no difference from the other houses we passed, but he knew them by sight. Some were condos, duplexes; others were small capes or big colonials. Most were of a fairly typical shape or size, and resembled those they nestled between.

“What makes them mansions?” I asked, curious, as it obviously had little to do with the dimensions of the building.

“The candy bars,” my son replied. “The mansions give king sized candy bars,” he said. “They are the best.”

So we walked. I walked, he ran, from one mansion to the next. And he was right; those houses, those identified mansions, gave the biggest candy bars.

And I am happy, for that last Halloween stroll together. For on it, my son gave me more than a few rejected Butterfingers. (He hates them, I love them). He showed me mansions. And explained that the outside is far less important than the inside, where the king sized candy bars live.

I hope he remembers those mansions, in his Halloweens to come. I know I will.

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