Halloweenland.

I’ve never been a big candy fan, except for when it comes to most chocolate varieties — particularly those that shack up with peanut butter — and Smarties.

Who else remembers those tiny pastel tablets that practically dissolved into a sugary cloud the moment they touched your tongue? I used to crush them all up until they made a tiny mountain of candy sand and then I’d lick my finger, touch it to the powder, then eat. Lick, powder, eat. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Each year I’m reminded of how many people enjoy decorating for Halloween. There’s a tiny home just around the corner and, for most of the year, its white picket fence sets is apart as a sweet, unassuming house. Come October, however, it’s a graveyard. Purple twinkle lights are draped around the fence, cotton batting spider webs are strewn between the front porch posts, an orange twinkle light spider web is hung from the peak over the front door, and faux tombstones with zombie hands coming out of the ground adorn the lawn.

Another street seems to favor the inflatable props. Tonight, a giant [read: the size of about nine sumo wrestlers] inflatable black cat watched me pass by; its head turned as I walked from east to west. Admittedly, it was a little creepy. I suppose that was the point. The inflatable castle had inflatable ghosts emerging from its windows; an inflatable tree had an inflatable bat perched atop its branches.

Inflatable overkill.

A few more blocks away is another neighborhood known for its empty nesters and neatly manicured gardens. These residents seemed to prefer simple wreaths of twigs, fall foliage and autumn-colored ribbons along with Halloween-themed house flags over the more gaudy decorations. Interestingly, I fall into this camp. About three decades early, but hey — I like to prepare.

The temperature dipped when I was in my final half-mile, and suddenly the air was filled with a sweetness that was unmistakable: Smarties. They were heavy on the breeze and I loved it. It was like a sugar rush minus the calories — my thoughts were taken back to sitting on the living room floor and dumping out a large, plastic, black-handled pumpkin. The trick-or-treat loot would be methodically separated, counted, frozen, then rationed for the next six months. Ah, childhood.

Who knows why we celebrate Halloween, but we do. Maybe we’re reliving our younger years, or maybe we’re creating the ones that we never had. Maybe it’s simply a good excuse to get together with friends, to have a good laugh over a good scare, to revel in a haunted house, to enjoy a costume (though, if you’re me, you seem to come across men who enjoy wearing them throughout the year — yikes), to remember a loved one’s favorite “holiday” or to simply carve a pumpkin and roast its seeds. Whatever the reason, there may be as many people as there as reasons to celebrate it, but they’re all fun to sit back and observe. Tonight, for Halloween in the air and for its characters on display that took me back to my younger years, I am thankful.

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