Treat, Of Course

When I was growing up, Trick-or-Treating wasn't a big part of our family culture.

We didn't boycott Halloween, or anything like that. We enjoyed other activities related to the day, such as carving pumpkins, hay rides and dressing up in costumes, but going door-to-door just wasn't something we did.

You see, we lived on a busy highway, so, instead of driving us to the nearest neighborhood to knock on doors, my parents loaded us into the car and took us around to our grandparents' and our great-aunts' and uncles' houses, where we posed for many photos and helped ourselves to dishes candy corn, apples and other treats.

Still vivid in my memory is the eerie feeling of sitting on the sofa at Uncle Sam's and Aunt June's, knowing that the door at the end of the hall opened into the funeral parlor they ran.

From there, we would drive nearly 20 minutes to Aunt Elizabeth's and Uncle Georges's. Through the woods and along the gravel road, which today remains one of the last unpaved roads in Bucks County, my dad told us stories of the Boogie Man. My sister would laugh and tickle the back of my neck at just the right moment, while I cringed and looked over my shoulder constantly.

When we arrived at their old mill, we were greeted by the barking of what I remember to be at least fourteen jack russel terriers, though there probably weren't more than five. The lights were always dim inside the mill house, but it was warm too, and we were greeted with mugs of apple cider and frisky pups leaping up to lick our faces. It was always our last stop, and I always left with my bag heavy with treats and my fists full of quarters. At least, that's how I remember it.

I got older, and we moved from that busy street to a neighborhood of seven houses. It was too small to draw any trick-or-treaters, and the few kids who lived on that little road didn't waste their time on it. Instead, they trudged up the hill to a much larger neighborhood and made a killing there. I don't recall ever going with them. I do remember Halloween roller-skating and bowling with family and church groups instead, and I think I went trick-or-treating once or twice with friends from school. It was pretty nice to go home with a bag-full of candy, but I was freezing the whole time, and it seemed a little over-rated to me.

Even so, I don't think I'm a Halloween grinch; trick-or-treating just wasn't a big part of my childhood, and when it comes around each year, I don't give it much thought. Since Graeme is from Australia, where Halloween is not a big deal, or any deal at all really, on Sunday afternoon, when we both realized it was October 31, we scrambled to figure out what to do.

Should we buy candy, or should we escape?

We called our friends with whom we went to the movies on October 31, 2009, but they didn't pick up the phone. Hm. 

I insisted that no one but family would be knocking on our door; only one child lives in our apartment building, and he's under the age of five. Nonetheless, Graeme went out and bought two small bags. Meanwhile, I got busy making some long-over-due gingersnap cookies. They're a fall favorite, and I hadn't made any yet this year. 

At 8:30, we got our first and only trick-or-treaters: our niece and nephew, with my sister and brother-in-law. After a chilly evening of trick-or-treating, they enjoyed their homemade treat, and they walked away with a big stack. I'm still working on the York Peppermint Patties.

Adapted from AllRecipes.com

1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/3 cup white sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a large bowl, mix together brown sugar, oil, molasses and egg. 

In a smaller bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, cinnamon and ginger. Then, stir into the molasses mixture.

Roll the dough into 1-inch balls. Dip one side in the sugar, and place on an ungreased cookie sheet with the sugar side up.

Bake for 8 minutes.


  1. That was a very good batch of gingersnaps you made Sunday; maybe your best ever. I got a cookie and a peppermint patty. The little princess was a kind and willing share-er. Barack, however, was not. He got the lion's share of the cookies.

    I'm thinking next year I'll dig the horrible pink wig out of the newly established Halloween box, paint a tooth, and drop by for my own stack.

    If TorT is being incorporated into the family culture, I'm in! (for the cookies)

  2. (judi actually)
    Oh. I remember those costumes!!! You forgot to mention the long drive all the way down to Grammas in Southampton. I still remember the first ever, baby Jess as a daisy (or some kind of flower). Lots of work your Mom went to! Moms are great like that :) We've made buku batches of gingersnaps too (actually Hannah has made all the batches this year). Love you Neeners xoxo
    ps any pics of Mica and Judah??