Tag Archive for 'Halloween'

“Trick-or-Treat Goodies (our way)” – A slight revision for year five

One year ago today, I was still in school, working at a different job, and worrying about the health of my then-ailing Grandma.

Today, I am graduated and staring down student loans, working a new-ish job, and still mourning the loss of my last grandparent 3 months ago. I was able to work from home today so I haven’t left the house, haven’t seen anyone in costumes, nor have I handed out any candy.

But all that is fine by me. Yoshi and I enjoyed a quiet night in and I have my own Halloween tradition here on my blog and that is to recycle this Halloween story… but this year, with some revisions.

Earlier this year, I took part in a special Mother’s Day performance at the Pacific Asia Museum called “Chinese American Stories: My Mother” and read this story on-stage. Since it was for Mother’s Day, I re-wrote some of the story to focus a little bit more about my mother and less on Halloween.

So though it’s the same story as always, it’s a “new and improved version,” dedicated to my Mom.

To anyone who has read it in previous years, I hope you’ll read it again with fresh eyes. To any first timers, I hope you enjoy.

Happy Halloween.

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 my brother and I were kids, we learned about most American traditions for the first time either on television or in school. Since our parents had come from Taiwan to the United States only a couple of years before I was born, they pretty much learned about American holidays at the same time my brother and I did… and that was usually when I came home from school talking about something I’d learned in class.

Of all the various American holidays we’d learned about, Halloween was especially exciting because my Mom had fun with “dressing us up.” Although she claimed that she didn’t know how to sew, she always came up with costumes for us… like the year my brother was a cowboy with a little red cowboy hat and matching vest, and I was an Indian squaw complete with feathers in my hair. Having costumes meant that we were sufficiently prepared to go trick-or-treating and to come home with a bag full of candy that we weren’t actually allowed to eat, since it would “rot our teeth out of our mouths.”

My mother has a background in medicine, having gone to medical school in Japan and then becoming a pharmacist in Taiwan. Although she liked getting us in costumes and taking us trick-or-treating, she never allowed us to eat the candy we brought home because it was full of sugar and artificial flavors and colors. Since we weren’t allowed to eat the candy, the strategy was to take us out early & to give away the candy that we had received earlier in the evening. We didn’t mind having our candy passed back out again; Mom had scared us about the dangers of sugary treats and really, the candy wasn’t important to us… we just loved the costumes and going door-to-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. We would be going at later time than our usual “early shift.” Since our cousins actually kept their candy, Mom decided that rather than re-distributing the candy my brother and I got via our front door, instead, our lucky cousins would go home with a double-bounty of candy, theirs AND ours! That also meant that Mom would actually have to prepare treats in advance for Dad to pass out while we were trick-or-treating.

And since I was starting to have neighbor kids in the same classes with me, I started becoming concerned about exactly what candy was being given away at our front door. I still remember the day Mom returned from the supermarket, proudly announcing that she had purchased “the BEST trick-or-treat goodies” for the neighborhood kids. My brother and I excitedly went through the grocery bags but we didn’t find any Smarties, M&Ms, little Snickers bars, or even candy corn.
“Mom?” I asked, combing through the groceries. “Where are the treats?”
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