October 29, 2004

Trick-or-Treat Goodies (our way)

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.

Posted by jozjozjoz at October 29, 2004 12:58 PM


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awesome story! I'm laughing just thinking about it... my mom handed out carob-covered raisins - and was offended when the kids got mad that it wasn't chocolate.

Posted by: don at October 29, 2004 01:13 PM

great story.
my mom handed out dimes.

Posted by: xtx at October 29, 2004 03:53 PM

That story is so funny.Walnuts for holloween lol.That's an idea my mom would have enjoyed when I was younger.Who is the little girl in the picture?

Posted by: Philly Jay at October 29, 2004 06:12 PM

That's me! (20 years ago)

Posted by: :: jozjozjoz :: at October 29, 2004 06:55 PM

Really?You look adorable lol!!!! :)

Posted by: Philly Jay at October 29, 2004 07:03 PM

Walnuts on Halloween? I see your mom's point, they aren't cheap and are pretty healthy, but these days no kid would be allowed to eat them since they aren't wrapped.

Did your hosue get a lot of eggs? ;)

Posted by: JR at October 29, 2004 11:00 PM

great story. whenever i get a shelled walnut i always smash it on a wall or use a hammer to break it, or better, hit the chick i hate the most with it (i dont get the walnut back in that case). my teeth are so weak i juts cant break it with my teeth. my parents can do it and i am still fascinated.

Posted by: umar at October 30, 2004 08:47 AM

That is an awesome story. Very funny. I think I love your mom. :)

Posted by: kat at October 30, 2004 10:43 AM

Your Mom sounds so cute! If I were you I'd buy her a bad of walnuts every Halloween :)

Posted by: Shannon @ Soupfork at October 30, 2004 02:24 PM

that was supposed to be bag :)

Posted by: Shannon @ Soupfork at October 30, 2004 02:24 PM

TOO CUTE! You and the story:) Just got back from stomping the neighborhood with my goofs and no walnuts! Lots of SNICKERS though:)

Posted by: ann at October 30, 2004 05:10 PM

What a lovely story! Happy Hallowe'en!

Posted by: Nez at October 31, 2004 01:40 AM

Circa 1984, on November 1, a newspaper headline somewhere in the United States, near the house where Joz grew up, read: "Young Trick-or-Treaters assailed by Squirrels in vicious Halloween massacre."

VERY cute story. Happy Halloween!

Posted by: redsaid at October 31, 2004 02:08 PM

Cool Story! I'm also the offspring of recent arrivals, in my case from Bosnia. Where did your parents come from? China?

Posted by: Halloween Monster at October 31, 2004 05:44 PM

My parents are from Taiwan. :)

Posted by: :: jozjozjoz :: at October 31, 2004 11:18 PM

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