When we arrived home with costumes in disarray and bags bulging, we would plop down on the floor and sort our collections. We would engage in some trading and eat way more than we should. On that one night, our mother wouldn't interfere.
Trick or treat was a glorious ritual of childhood that I wanted to pass along to my own youngsters.
I followed my parents' practices pretty much to the letter. That meant one pumpkin, carved on the big night and placed on the porch as a welcoming beacon.
Then the kids grew up. As Halloween approached, I still would buy that pumpkin, but my husband and I wouldn't get around to carving it. It would sit there on the porch in pristine but boring beauty, with only the porch light to signal we were open for business.
I should have at least cut it up, scraped the innards and baked it for use in pies, but that never happened either. So a couple of years ago I decided to stop wasting even one pumpkin.
I bought an artificial one. Inside a cutaway section were some fake webs and spiders and a small battery-powered light. I told myself it would last for years.
It stacked up to a real jack-o'-lantern about as well as a discount store costume does to one pulled together with imagination at home.
Recently I was shopping for groceries when I came across that $1.99 real pumpkin and couldn't resist.
Now I'm promising myself that the children who approach my house on trick or treat night will see a carved jack-o'-lantern lit from within by a candle.
And they will find no Halloween Scrooge.
Candy prices have increased by about tenfold since I was a kid, but for an expenditure of 20 bucks or so my house could be the one with the big bars.
That should play as well as a yard full of pumpkins.
Friend recently retired as editor and publisher of the Daily Mail. Tweet to her @nanyafriend.