What Halloween means to me
Charlie Brown had his Great Pumpkin, but my grandma put him to shame when she dressed as the Great Pumpkin circa 2004. Next to Christmas, Halloween was one of the most magical holidays for our family. If you’re lucky in life, you have someone in your family that doesn’t just follow traditions, they create them. Maybe you play this role. For the Swiatek clan, that person was Margaret Swiatek (also known as Grandma).
My grandmother worked at a large insurer for over 25 years. I would imagine the office could feel pretty stuffy at times. After all, the workers dealt with medical claims, lawsuits and “adulting” to the fullest. She was proud of two things at work, the pictures of grandkids on her desk and the candy dish that she filled with seasonal treats.
Every Halloween she would dress up for her office’s annual costume contest. Then, our favorite part of the day (even more than trick-or-treating) was waiting for her to stop by our house so we could see her costume. I remember a scary witch, a clown, a scarecrow and of course, The Great Pumpkin. She made her costumes, and I can’t tell you how much I wish I had her costume consultation now for Mars Wrigley’s annual Boo Bash. The competition is fierce.
If you work with me, you know I always keep candy on the file cabinet in front of my desk. Some of you make it difficult to keep the dishes full (you know who you are), but I’m happy to see the candy stock deplete as you stop by to say hello or share the latest tidbits of life with me. You can thank Margaret Swiatek (aka Grandma) for teaching me that the simplest way to connect with the people you share space with 40+ hours a week is to encourage sweet breaks.
It’s about more than candy and costumes too. Halloween reminds me of the best of fall. Rustling through the grass and chilled air with my sisters as we ran from house to house trick-or-treating. Begging my mom to carve pumpkins; she preferred painting because let’s be real, less mess for moms. Carefully eating each layer of a candy corn - white, then yellow, then orange, hoping that each color might have a unique flavor. Remembering these moments brings me right back to the days when we’d wait at our front door, hand on the glass and eyes peeled on the road awaiting her red Acura. We couldn’t wait to see who emerged each Halloween.
My grandma passed away before I started my job working for one of the coolest candy companies in the world, but I’m sure my title or stories wouldn’t impress her. She would just want to make sure I fill my candy dish to the brim each day.