Northern Wilds Magazine
Taking inventory of the bounty after an evening of 21st century gathering. | CASEY FITCHETT

Halloween Tales: Strategic Suburban Sugar & Halloween Costumes

Do you know how much candy is too much candy? I think the answer to that question largely depends on how old you are. When you’re a kid in suburbia, the limit does not exist.

I lived in the same house for the first 18 years of my life. Throughout my childhood, I stood on the same corner to catch the bus every day, I rode my bike around the same potholes, and jogged the same routes as I trained for races in my teenage years. Knowing the neighborhood so well also came in handy annually on October 31. It was time to collect a pillowcase full of candy from my generous neighbors.

I was squarely in my ninth year of life, and I knew that life didn’t get any better than Halloween night. Okay, perhaps this was second to my birthday, but like most kids, I had an innate ability to live squarely in the moment. Donning my best (and only) wizard costume, I stepped out of the house with my dad. The world (and its individually-wrapped sugary goodness) was mine for the taking, and no one could tell me differently. I knew the work it was going to take to fill the empty pillowcase in my hands, but the miles my feet would travel were but a small sacrifice for the glorious momentary rush that would come when I dumped out all of the candy on the floor to see the whole night’s bounty. Not to get ahead of myself; there were many “trick or treats” to be enthusiastically expressed before I could revel in that moment.

I considered the options tactically, and eventually decided on the most optimized strategy: skip my immediate neighbors in the court initially. A bold move, you might think. What if you get too tired when you’re the furthest away, decide to head home early, and miss the opportunity for the low hanging fruit (candy) of those who live right beside you? Never get in the way of a girl with a plan; I knew what I was doing.

Everyone in the neighborhood got my best smile and the sweetest “trick or treat.” Nothing less than the most amiable wizard here. The pillowcase expanded and my little bicep flexed. Rounding the corner of the court at the end of the night, I knew we were in the home stretch, and I dug deep. These people knew me, and they would be happy to see me. In not more than two houses, I knew that my strategy had legs: because it was the end of the night, these adults were furiously trying to ensure the miniature sugar bombs weren’t there to tempt them the next day. Their calories saved were my sweet, sweet victory. The wizard had worked her magic.

By Casey Fitchett
The First and Last Time I Picked My Daughter’s Halloween Costume
By Walter Rhein

“Why are moms so obsessed with playing dress up with their kids?” I thought.

The whole concept was beyond my comprehension. Selecting “cute” outfits for babies seemed to be a major component of motherhood and it boggled my mind.

The gals would get together and talk about things like fabrics and lace and accessories. I had a hard time keeping my eyes open.

“What’s fun about being a princess? There aren’t any guns, no bandoleers, no weapons of any kind! Nothing but tiaras and bracelets and the color pink. Now if mothers dressed their kids up as characters from Lord of the Rings, that would be something to get excited about!”

I had just had an epiphany. Dressing up a baby didn’t have to be exclusively a mother’s territory. A father could get involved too and have the opportunity to dress his child up as something that was actually awesome.

Why shouldn’t a child be Gandalf or Bobba Fett or Batman every day of her life? After all, she didn’t have to go to work. Kids fashion doesn’t make any sense. Dress up as a pirate day should be every day for teenagers!

I hopped on the internet and did a search for costumes. I was delighted to discover that all kinds of awesome baby clothing already existed. I put in my order barely able to contain my excitement. The shipment arrived a few days later.

“Oh look, a package from Amazon,” my wife said. She tore into it. “Baby clothing! How wonderful!” Then she had a closer look, and her eyes narrowed, “What is this?”

The garments were folded in bags, all she could see was brown fabric and what appeared to be fur. She pulled the item from the packaging and held it up like evidence at a trial.

This was the first and last time I picked out a Halloween costume for my daughter. | WALTER RHEIN

“Chewbacca?” she said in a tone dripping with contempt. I could tell that this was going to be a hard sell.

“It’s for our daughter.”


“For Halloween.”


“Oh, come on, it’s going to be super cute! If you don’t like those, I also ordered Darth Vader and Princess Leia.” That argument did the opposite of swaying her.

“We aren’t dressing up our daughter as Chewbacca,” she said. That was it, it was final. I was without hope. Even Obi-Wan Kenobi couldn’t save me.

It turned out my wife had planned on dressing up our daughter as a strawberry for Halloween. How a strawberry was acceptable when Chewbacca “lacked dignity” was beyond me. One of her friends had promised her a costume. The thing is, this was one of those friends who never followed through on a commitment.

My wife waited and waited and waited. When Halloween came, the costume still hadn’t arrived.

“What are we going to do?” my wife asked.

I didn’t try to suggest the Chewbacca costume, I just put it on our daughter and headed downstairs.

“Oh my goodness!” my wife said. Even she couldn’t deny the power of the cutest little Chewbacca to ever walk the earth.

We headed out onto Main Street and my daughter was a sensation. Other kids who were dressed as characters from Star Wars films stopped to have their pictures taken with her. She even ended up in the local paper. The headline read, “The Force Is Strong With This One.”

I’ve been married long enough to know you never say, “I told you so,” but I did try to suggest a costume for next year.

“Indiana Jones? Robocop? The Man With No Name?”


That was the first and last of my days as a fashion stylist for my daughter. I didn’t get to pick any more outfits, but I retired knowing that the one choice I did make turned out to be absolutely perfect.

I also know enough not to confess that the Strawberry costume did arrive on time but somehow got hopelessly misplaced in the days leading up to Halloween. Its current location is a mystery.

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