I felt like a bit of a Halloween humbug this year. October is a big birthday month for us, so by the time Halloween rolls around, I usually feel pretty over-scheduled. Still, I love the fall season, the pumpkin patches and all the wonderful fall fruits. I even enjoy the challenge of picking a great costume, even though it will only be worn for about an hour and a half. I used to love trick or treating as a kid, and I enjoyed passing out candy with a young child who delighted in strangers coming to the door in costume — but now that we’re at “trick or treating age”, I feel very conflicted about this whole tradition.
First we have to cram the Halloween festivities into a school night (and get to bed at a decent hour), and then we have to battle over the candy situation. My son has been pretty willing to give up most of his candy to the soldiers, as we’ve done since he was little… but it’s still a strange custom that feels foreign to my lifestyle. We don’t eat conventional candy, at all — and very few sweets to be honest — but if we do it’s usually something all natural and sort of special (to us). Special to us can be a tin of peppermints from Trader Joes, from which we take one mint as a “dessert”, or it can be a single piece of really good dark chocolate with almonds (my favorite brand is sweetened with erythritol). Some other favorites are homemade fruit popsicles and wholesome raw foods “sweets”, or frozen yogurt. We eat conventional candy about once per year at Halloween, and it just feels strange to me.
I guess it’s hard to be completely sheltered from the mainstream traditions — even with all of the effort I put forth to live a lifestyle that is natural and holistic — and maybe it’s not entirely practical. I recently read an article suggesting that Halloween temptations are a “teachable moment” allowing children the opportunity to learn how to pace themselves in the face of excess. I suppose that’s one way to look at it.
I still feel that it would be ideal to banish the processed, packaged, corporate candies from our otherwise wholesome diet. Thankfully, my son’s teacher bestowed a wonderful blessing on all of the families in our class that makes giving up that precious candy a little bit more magical. My son hopped in the car today, the day after Halloween, announcing that he wanted to fill a bucket with candy for the Sugar Sprite Fairy, in the hopes that he could get a hot wheels car or other toy in return. I rejoiced inwardly when I hear this, except for the fact that I wasn’t really prepared with toys to fulfill his hope. I took a cue from the tooth fairy and put in a couple of dollars instead.
Even when he outgrows the belief in fairies, which I hope never happens, I’m sure that his enterprising spirit would be willing to trade more of his Halloween candy for a few more dollars toward that next Lego set (nothing beats Legos, so far). It could even be educational if you put a price on each piece and have them add up their whole stash. You could call it bribery, sure — but unless we relocate to a country that doesn’t embrace trick or treating as a cultural norm, I think it might be the best way to enjoy the season, and keep the processed junk intake to a minimum.
Any other ideas?