While to some families, the great Candy Divide would mean the Halloween tradition of the division of children to their separate corners or rooms to munch down whatever candies they smuggled into their pockets when nobody was looking, or the bickering and arguing that comes when one child claims another stole their Snickers or whines that their sister got more than they did. In our house growing up, it was something else entirely. Rather than the children being divided, the goods were instead dived up amongst all inhabitants. The Great Candy Divide brought us together in a strange way.
Sometimes my brother or I would feel the urge to be unusually kind to the other. Throughout the year, this would often mean I would give him the TV remote and tell him that I didn't care what we watched, it was his turn. He would in turn do the same for me. Other times it would be the lack of liquid soap in his tooth brush. There were other times when he would sneak out of the house and I would warn him if Dad was coming home. At Halloween, it was a tradition we sort of started on our own, without the prompting of parents, to have the Great Candy Divide.
We would dump out our loot on the floor, dead square in the middle of the living room, mixing it all together. We would divide the Snickers from the Butterfingers, the flavored Tootsie Rolls from the original, the red lollipops from the yellow. We would make a pile of Kisses and a pile of Caramels. Smarties and Bottle Caps had their own sections, too. In this way, we divided up everything we had gotten. Then we would inspect what we had gotten for open or bad pieces, separated it all completely equally between the two of us, then give at least one quarter of each pile to our parents. They always said they didn't want anything, but they usually ate whatever we gave them. Dad usually claimed to be going on a diet, but he loved his chocolates too much to ever do something like that around Halloween. It was his way of participating in the unusual "Good Will To Others" inside the house. He wanted us to keep the candy we had earned. All we wanted to do was share.
Caramels were always my favorite. I loved the chewy, sticky little squares of yummy goodness. I also knew that they were my Dad's most favorite candy in the whole world. Every year when we divided out the Caramels, I would take only two for myself when nobody was looking, stick them back in the plastic pumpkin bucket with the lollipops and Snickers, and give all the rest to my father.
"No, Honey, you keep those," he would say, year after year. Year after year I would protest and tell him that I didn't actually like the caramels, and that I wanted him to have them. Year after year, he would finally just give up, say thank you, and take the golden treasure I offered to him. I think he suspected that I had lied about not liking the caramels, but that was one lie he never bothered to correct me on.
Smarties were one of my mothers favorites. They were also one of mine, but that didn't bother me as much. Smarties were always plentiful, while Caramels were in short supply. I would usually split my pile of Smarties in half and give half of them to her. She would often stick them in a brown paper sandwich bag on top of the fridge and eat one every now and then, but every now and then I would sneak downstairs and put a couple extras from my own pile into the bag. She never knew.
My brother loved Snickers bars when we were kids. He liked the 3 Musketeers better, but the Snickers were always high on the list. The caramel and peanuts inside the chocolate made them one of my fathers favorites, too - so usually he would give half of all Snickers to my father. With my mother, he always generously shared his Twizzlers, something I don't believe he likes even to this day.
At the end of the Great Candy Divide, everyone in the house always had too much candy to eat in a night, so we would spend time after dinner picking through our goodies for three special pieces we wanted. Then we would put the rest away, and try to talk through the Caramel gluing our teeth together, the chocolate clinging to the corner of our mouths, and the powder of crushed Smarties on our lips. Each year at Halloween, the candies were always divided, but the family never was in those days.