Every Halloween, I long for the powers of an exorcist to cast out the fear that hangs over neighborhoods, quite irrationally, due to the alleged danger from razorblades in apples. Where pray tell would anyone buy a box of Gillettes? Doesn't everyone use disposables nowadays? The generalized dread is reinforced by media types with powerful sponsors, those oh-so-helpful news-readers who are only there for our safety and security. I don't know for sure, but something tells me that if you are a sugar speculator or a candy manufacturer, Halloween has got to rank as a big day on your calendar.
There isn't a middle class community in America which doesn't take homemade treats from the neighbors every time they have a school bake sale or holiday party, so why not on Halloween?
Sometimes elderly neighbors are immune to the scare talk. On my street there was a local teacher (alas since passed on) whom everyone knew (even though he taught at a private school in another town) who provided homemade popcorn balls on Halloween. It was just the sort of thrift a certain type of New Englander would have been taught since boyhood. How expensive is popcorn and a little corn syrup anyway? Maybe $5.00 at most for the whole neighborhood?
I have recently bought about $28.00 worth of Halloween candy from Costco, though I would personally prefer to hand out homemade cookies. For one thing they taste better.
Back in my own childhood, Halloween brought out Mrs. B's cookies, which I enjoyed because they were spice flavored jack o-lanterns with eyes made of almonds and a smile of dried apricot. The generous and creative Mrs. B. was looked on with some suspicion by the local anticommunist covens because her children collected pennies for UNICEF instead of candy for themselves. I must remember to have some coins ready. Even in this day and age there are children whose parents send them out on the same mission, and whenever I drop a coin in that little cardboard box, I feel a John Bircher from my hometown is sent rolling over in his grave.
I have all day tomorrow to contemplate why I am gratifying the conformist in everyone by duplicating the treats of my neighbors up and down the street. If safety is everyone's concern, wouldn't it make sense to affix a label with my return address to a cookie bag? Or is this all "meaningless" as I provide a conduit to corporate profits, my boring contribution to the holiday just like everyone else's? Memory matters, though. I still care about Mrs. B. I just looked her up online and she is still a local activist in the town where Frugal Sister and I grew up. I wish I could tell her that she still inspires me, partly for the obligations she laid on her kids to help others, but also for direct generosity to us kids on the holiday we had looked forward to so long. I think she was and probably still is a mindful person, and that she showed she took our health as seriously as she did that of the Third World kids for whom hers were collecting.