There are a lot of things from childhood (and even from early adulthood) about which I feel a certain nostalgia. These things range from the $.05 candies (always “tutti frutti”) at the corner store in Edisto when I was 6 to being in Chapel Hill for Halloween during college. In both of these cases, as well as many others, I feel that if I ever tried to go back and recapture the moment as it exists in my head, that it will forever be ruined. Memories last a long time, but those impressions are fleeting in a way, where going back has too much potential to disappoint. Some things are best left to memory lest they turn out to be less than wonderful. It’s quite a bit like the sleigh bell in The Polar Express that eventually stops ringing as the magic of childhood fades.
By the same token, there are some things, mostly very small things, that I have held onto even as I’ve moved farther into adulthood. One of these is decorating for Christmas at the same time every year; I always put up the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, if not immediately after Thanksgiving dinner itself. This started off as a combination of excitement and convenience: my brother, sister, and I were always very excited to get out the Christmas decorations, but also (especially as we got older) Thanksgiving was one time when everyone was in the house and it could be an event.
But there is one little tradition I have that hasn’t quite faded. Every year I wait for the arrival of the Halloween candy, not because I like Halloween candy specifically, but to get my hands on Brach’s candy corn and pumpkins. (Yes, it has to be Brach’s.) For some reason this particular flavor from childhood has never changed to my palate (I once liked circus peanuts, for instance, and now find them disgusting) and I buy a bag each year. These pumpkins have decorated birthday cakes, have been used as toys, and have been my favorite fall candy for years.
There is a part of me, though, that almost dreads the candy corn because I feel like at some point my tastes will change and I will open my little orange packet and the pumpkins won’t satisfy because I’ll have outgrown the sugary sweetness. I have already found that most sugar candies aren’t good to me any more, but so far the candy corn is still just the way I remember it. And in a strange way, that’s comforting.