Reprise of “Trick-or-Treat Goodies (our way)”

Is it lack of time? Laziness? Not being in a festive mode? The avoidance of candy? Sad that Dad isn’t around for another holiday? Missing my Mom because she’s in Taiwan?

I don’t know why I’m not in the Halloween-y mood this year, but I’m not. Instead of going out tonight I’m going to hide out at home and avoid trick-or-treaters.

But that doesn’t stop me from revisiting a post I wrote 2 years ago about some of our special Halloween traditions. Enjoy below…

Joz at the pumpkin patch in 1984.  I like how my eyes are closed in this shot.  (How did 20 years go by so quickly?!)When we were kids, we learned about a lot of American traditions for the first time on television or in school. Since our parents came to the United States only a couple of years before I was born, they learned about American holidays pretty much at the same time my brother and I did.

Halloween was something fun and exciting because my Mom understood the concept of “dress up” and although she claimed that she didn’t know how to sew, she always came up with costumes for us for Halloween so we could go trick-or-treating and come home with a bag full of candy that we were later not allowed to eat, since it would “rot our teeth out of our mouths.”

Since we weren’t allowed to eat the candy we got from trick-or-treating, often the strategy was to send us out early & to give away the candy that we had received earlier in the evening. We didn’t mind; that was just the way we did things.

As we got old enough to go to school (and have neighbor kids in the same classes with us), we began to become concerned about what candy was being given away at our front door. One year, my Mom informed us that our cousins were planning to come to our neighborhood so we could all go trick-or-treating together. Although this was exciting, it also meant that Mom would actually have to prepare treats in advance for my Dad to pass out while we were out.

I still remember how horrifying it was when Mom returned from the supermarket, proudly announcing that she had purchased “the BEST trick-or-treat goodies” for the neighborhood kids.

My Bro and I excited went through the grocery bags but we didn’t find any Smarties, M&Ms, candy corn, or little Snickers bars.

“What? Where? Mom?”

From deep within one of the paper bags, my mom reached in and proudly held up a plastic bag full of raw walnuts, still in shell.


My brother wasn’t even in school yet, but even HE knew that giving out walnuts at Halloween wasn’t cool.

That’s not candy! No one wants walnuts for Halloween, Mom,” I whined in Chinese.

“Aiyahh, says who? Walnuts are great! And they’re not cheap either! One walnut is more expensive than a small piece of candy! And they are healthy and will not rot your teeth! That’s a great treat!” answered Mom in Chinese.

There was no budging on The Great Walnut Debate, either. It didn’t slip anyone’s attention that we were the only household that gave out walnuts. Even our cousins taunted us and wouldn’t let us forget it. They even went up to my Mom and asked for the leftovers so that we could play with them (one walnut each is not exactly fun). My Mom took this as proof that she had found the perfect Halloween treat.

Which meant that at the next Halloween, she came home with twice as many walnuts to handout. We were stuck being known as the house that gave out walnuts from that year on.

A few years later, we moved from that condo into a house on a real street, with real neighbors. By this time, we were so used to handing out walnuts at Halloween, we didn’t even think that other people might find it strange. In fact, we thought it was kind of funny and looked forward to teasing Mom about where we could find the least expensive, best quality walnuts come October 31.

One year, our entire family had some sort of obligation (party?) to attend which meant that no one would be able to stay home & hand out candy. So Mom got a few less walnuts than usual and left them in a fruit bowl at the front door (just like another family might leave some candy in a bowl if they were going to be out for the night).

When we got home, the devastation of walnuts all over our front yard and porch was amazing. It was as if World War III had been launched on our doorstep, using walnuts. There were sharp walnut shell shards everywhere you stepped. Walnut guts were spillled all over our lawn. There was not a single walnut left intact in the bowl, but I’m pretty certain every single one of those walnuts left for the neighborhood kids found their fates smashed all over the concrete of our driveway.

The next morning, as Mom returned from cleaning up the walnut carnage, she announced that we would not be handing out walnuts for Halloween in the new neighborhood anymore because the people here “obviously didn’t appreciate it.” I don’t remember handing out walnuts again after that.

Regardless, every year as the season turns to fall and the stores fill their aisles with pumpkins and candy, I always walk by to produce area to see if they are selling walnuts and wonder if I should bring a bag home to hand out.

::Trick-or-Treat Goodies (our way) originally posted on October 29, 2004 at

Thanks for rating this! Now tell the world how you feel - .
How does this post make you feel?
  • Excited
  • Fascinated
  • Amused
  • Bored
  • Sad
  • Angry

6 Responses to “Reprise of “Trick-or-Treat Goodies (our way)””

  • did someone call me?

    I love walnuts! hey, if you “do” happen to pass a grocery store and just happen to pick up a bag of walnust (shelled please) bring it by, I’ll but it in a batch of cookies or something :)

  • I hope next Halloween will be better for you, Joz. But walnuts for treats? Your Mom is frickin’ hilarious!

  • I giggled through this whole post. My grandmother used to give out little teeny boxes of raisins. All the neighborhood kids used to try to avoid her house, but the parents always made them go. I don’t remember any of them retaliating the way the kids in your neighborhood, though.

    Thanks for triggering that memory. The only other thing she did that was even more embarrassing was make us grandkids go with her to pick mustard greens in a field behind the local Ralph’s supermarket. That was truly humiliating, especially when friends drove by. But the resulting meal was spectacular ;)

  • Can I ask, where did you grow up (I am guessing not the U.S.?) and how did you end up in the United States? :D

    Poor mom!

  • Actually, I did grow up in the U.S. Born and raised. My parents are both from Taiwan.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: