Every year Halloween has its own personality.

The last several years we’ve had children come to our home on Halloween starting around 5 p.m. and being all done by 8 p.m. If we have stragglers in the older category coming later I especially welcome them.

When our son, whom we lost to cancer 10 years ago, was in about the eighth grade he sheepishly came to me and asked, “Do you think it would be OK if I just went to a few neighbors trick-or-treating, maybe just Van Diepens?”

He wasn’t quite ready to give up on his favorite Halloween fun, even though he thought he was probably too old! I told him I was sure it would be OK.

Now I could cry every time that incident comes to mind. Jay quickly returned home and admitted he had only gone across the street to Van Diepens.

So now I’ve admitted why I always become a little feisty when someone moans about “big kids” coming to their door! To me those big kids represent Jay. And if all they want of me is a piece of candy, I can do that!

Our Halloween tradition is to have a chili supper by 5. We have to eat early or we end up having to wait until 8 to eat and we get too hungry. This year, however, we couldn’t wait until Halloween for our chili and I made it the week before. So then I had to come up with something different for that night.

What could I make? I decided it pretty much had to be soup. I looked through the cupboard for whatever cans I might find, but nothing was there. I then looked through my drawer of packaged soup mixes. Nothing very interesting there except a Bear’s Claw creamy wild rice that was getting close to expiring. After looking at what I needed to add to the package of dry ingredients the only thing it called for was 8 cups of water. Mmmm that didn’t sound very tasty! The package also suggested adding some cooked chicken or a can of mushrooms. Well, I thought, that may help it somewhat.

When Peter came in the back door he shouted, “something smells good.” I took that as a good sign. And, after handing out candy to 109 little trick-or-treaters we were ready for this questionable soup I had made.

Peter was more than enthusiastic about having it since it “smelled so good.” I ladled the soup into our big soup cups. It appeared terribly thick, which surprised me since I had used the whole 8 cups of water that was suggested. I added a can of chicken broth to the thick soup so it looked more like soup and a little less like a soupy casserole.

Surprise! It really was as good as it smelled! Maybe we were more than a little hungry after waiting until after 8 to eat it, but we thoroughly enjoyed that small package of dried ingredients and all that water, a can of mushrooms and a little chicken. I hesitate to recommend anything because we all have different tastes and you may think I’m way off, but I can say we certainly liked it and continued to enjoy the big kettleful for days.

This year, after the last of the kids had rung our doorbell, Peter didn’t have to waste time taking off a Halloween costume. He has learned his lesson that less is more when it comes to Halloween costumes. He went the full costume route one year and the kids were petrified. They screamed and ran away. We even heard a few frightened youngsters standing at the end of our sidewalk warning others to not go to this house, “It was too scary.”

Every year Peter keeps pulling back his costume wearing so as not to scare the kids. But they were still scared no matter how simple the costume. Or, worse yet, they totally ignored his efforts. This year he just sat at the door, handing out candy and enjoying the comments from the kids in their variety of costumes. He prompted all of them to sing a song, or recite a poem or do cartwheels; anything. But they only politely smiled and looked longingly at the big bowl of candy!

The kids were having a good, safe time wearing mostly store-bought costumes. Some outfits were beautiful and some pretty doggone scary. For the most part, they were very appreciative of all the candy that was filling their already-nearly-full buckets. One neighbor was giving small containers of Play-Doh, which was deemed a huge success. In case you didn’t know this: Play-Doh was made as a wallpaper cleaner, figure that one out!

Another year behind us. We always look forward to seeing the kids in their costumes and their excitement with the prospect of going home and eating all that candy. Maybe even all of it in one sitting?

God is good.

Connie Wagner lives in Sibley. She is the co-founder of The N’West Iowa REVIEW and may be reached at cwagner@iowainformation.com.