Saturday, October 29, 2005 | Halloween is Monday and I don’t know who is more excited, me or my daughter, Alexandra.

This officially marks Alex’s third Halloween but it’s the first where she has grasped the fundamental aspect of the holiday – getting candy, eating candy and keeping Daddy from eating candy.

But even at that tender age, we could already tell she was a gifted child and would be smart enough to object by the time she celebrated her second Halloween.

We decided on a kitty cat because it’s classic and the last thing we wanted to do was dress her in an outfit of a TV character that would be dated by the time she was 16 – the age when the blame game begins (your mileage may vary).

We did that outfit last year, the first that she was able to say “frickerfreat” to people. She hadn’t quite mastered the details of the holiday. Whenever someone gave her candy, she gave some of it back. Not good, considering I’m trying to raise her to be a capitalist.

This year, she has been planning for Halloween for weeks. She has decided to be “a cat with whiskers and a tail” and is telling everyone she meets. Everyone. Including the FedEx guy.

She has also decided what my wife and I are going to wear. I am going to be a Dalmatian. Not just any dog but, specifically, a Dalmatian, and my wife is going to be a pumpkin.

We don’t know how she decided that (especially because my pregnant wife wasn’t showing when she made her decree). But who are we to argue? Oh yeah, we’re her parents. I keep forgetting.

Sure, the one night of trick-or-treating is the main event but we’ve been celebrating for the whole month by watching TV specials and movies about Halloween, trying different kinds of candy to see what Alex likes best (candy corn is currently No. 1) and canvassing costume shops to have her try on scary masks.

We also went to various butcher shops to check the prices on sacrificial animals. OK. We didn’t. I just wanted to make sure you’re still reading.

Last week, we added a new tradition and drove out to Lakeside to visit two pumpkin farms, Oma’s Pumpkin Farm and Victorian Gardens. Both have the Halloween spirit in different ways.

Victorian Gardens has kiddie slides, coin-operated rides, and lots of gifts like pumpkin butter. They also get their pumpkins from Manteca, Calif., which is fitting. You see, Manteca means lard in Spanish and they’re getting fat by charging mucho dinero for the Shetland pony rides.

Oma’s Pumpkin Farm is cheaper (just five bucks for the child) and doesn’t have as many attractions but does let kids slide down a hill of cotton seed, and pet some pigs and goats.

And since it’s a working dairy farm, Alex did get to see the sights and smells of farm life.

Discovery No. 1: There’s a reason the French word for “behind” sounds like the English words “dairy air” and Alex was shocked. The animals on her own Fisher Price farm don’t have the same odor.

My wife thought a baby calf had been born a few hours before our arrival and I wasn’t sure. Thanks to our discussion, Alex now knows and says the term, “womb juice.” If you meet us, don’t ask her to say it.

After picking out our pumpkin (which is now moldy), we took it home and started carving out a drawing designed by Alex as well as cooking the pumpkin seeds so we could eat them.

It was great teaching Alex some old Halloween traditions but since pumpkin seeds get stuck in your teeth and a moldy pumpkin turns to mush, we were reminded about the rule of traditions; they’re sometimes best anticipated than experienced.

Still, I’m looking forward to Halloween when she learns the biggest tradition of all: Letting Dad comb over all the candy so he can ensure safety (and remove the stuff he likes for his own consumption).

David Moye is a La Mesa-based writer who admits his favorite Halloween memory was in ninth grade when he dressed up as a thief and stole candy from the other kids.

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