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Halloween has become a much-anticipated event at our house, and although it’s come and gone this year, the memories — and bounty — have lasted. We had a cat princess and a dinosaur ready to receive the bounty of candy that is characteristic of the church trunk-or-treats we frequent each year, and these events did not disappoint.

Each of our kids came away with what can only be accurately described as a glut of sweet and sour fruity treats and every kind of chocolate money can buy at a drugstore. My husband and I gazed at the haul, and one of us made the requisite remark about having to walk two miles uphill both ways in the dark to collect a plethora like this back in our days. It really was a lot of candy.

Our kids don’t get a lot of sugar, although we like to let them have a treat now and then. My daughter was delighted to get to eat two pieces of candy before we headed home from the first event that night, and my son, who is considerably younger, got one piece.

Although she knew she wouldn’t be eating much if any more candy that night, my daughter was thrilled when I told her she and I could stay up late for a ritual that I remember from my childhood: the sorting of Halloween candy. In her typical analytical manner, she peppered me with questions on how to go about this monumental task. Would we sort fruity candy from chocolate? Should we pile gum in with hard candy, or was it its own category? And, of course, always the wildcard at issue was where to put the more foody treats — crackers, cookies, etc …

I told her that because the last sorting had taken place so far in my past, we would play these things by ear and let the feeling carry the night. We got her little brother packed off to bed (with many protests), and we set about the task, dumping the loose candy out on our kitchen table and surveying the bounty. Then, we had to free the remaining sweets from their various bonds, a lengthy process that involved undoing tiny twist ties and ribbons. I was just ripping open plastic bags by the end of this stage.

With all candy now available for inspection, we decided to go with my childhood sorting practice of piling all chocolate on one side of the table and fruity candy on the other. This part took, in the words of Bilbo Baggins, “a good long while.”

Since we’re not big on candy during the rest of the year, there are always new choices to peruse each Halloween. We paused to exclaim over fruity inventions we’d never seen before, some of them new, chewy iterations of hard candies. Sometimes this translation works really well, and sometimes it doesn’t, so unwrapping one is always a gamble. In the chocolate department, there were caramel injections in candy shells where chocolate once was, and this sweet, sticky addition also made an auxiliary appearance where I was used to seeing only peanut butter.

We had two fairly large mounds by the time we were through this portion, and we decided to dissect the situation a little further. We ended up separating out the suckers, and we put chewy and hard fruity candy in separate bags. We lumped all chocolate and caramel together, and we made food its own section. We also ended up with four cans — two with chocolate milk and two with orange soda — an exciting development.

So, did the sorting bring about any lasting delineations? No. At this point, all candy has been picked over and has mixed together again. However, the process allowed my daughter and I to continue the anticipation and delight that is Halloween for just a little while longer. It’s always a little bit of a letdown when it’s over, but I love celebrating a tradition with my kids that I enjoyed as a child. Now, the once imposing pile has dwindled to mostly fruity candy. It resides in a bread box on top of our refrigerator well out of reach of little hands, and I must admit a little sheepishly that the adults in the house have enjoyed most of its b0unty. It’s been a slow but sweet goodbye to a day we looked forward to all year.

Elizabeth Crumbly is a newspaper veteran and freelance writer. She lives in rural Northwest Georgia where she teaches riding lessons, writes and raises her family. You can correspond with her at

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