I was inspired to write this blog after reading an article* about a woman choosing to hand out a letter this Halloween to children she feels are overweight. The letter she is handing out is for parents to read concerning the health of their child. In one hand she’ll have this letter to selectively give out to overweight children, while she’ll have a handful of candy in the other hand to give out to the others. If her concern around childhood obesity is health, then my question is: why hand out candy at all?
This brings us to a question I have: Does Halloween encourage children to excessively consume candy? Is there a way to eliminate the excess without taking away from the trick-or-treating experience?
Since my daughter, Anika, has been old enough to trick-or-treat, I’ve struggled with this question. I have great memories as a child growing up and going trick-or-treating, coming home and dumping out our bags full of candies. Even as a child I was a bit surprised we were allowed so much candy and I ate it as fast as I could (probably paranoid my parents would change their minds after witnessing my third consecutive day of a sugar high)!
What I also remember loving about Halloween is the excitement around finding a costume, carving out a pumpkin, making crafts and decorating, and anticipating the night of going out trick-or-treating.
Being an adult now and with a family of my own, it’s exciting to carry on family traditions, but it’s also fun to make some of our own new traditions.
Fresh Figs: "Exchanging Goods" Halloween Tradition
The Zelinka-Miller Halloween Tradition: Exchanging Goods
(AKA How I steal my little girls’ bag of goodies)
Year 1: Diamond-studded pumpkin sticker
The first year of trick-or-treating at the age of 2, Anika went to a few neighbours, came home and handed me her bag without even looking into it. In turn, I gave her a beautiful diamond-studded pumpkin sticker for her sticker book. There were no surprises, my daughter was aware well in advance that the exchange was going to take place (and was still excited to go trick-or-treating). She loved her sticker for as long as she would have loved a mouthful of candy- about 2 seconds. Both parties were happy.
Year 2: Fresh Figs (pic)
Last year, when she was 3, again I prepped her before the day. I explained that Halloween isn’t just about getting as much candy as possible, it’s about getting dressed up, meeting your neighours, getting to stay out late. In a way the act of trick-or-treating is a special treat in its own right. That year when we got back from doing a short round, she dumped out her bag of candies. We kept all the “healthier” treats, like raisins, goldfish crackers and a juice box, and she was allowed to choose one candy. She chose a chocolate pumpkin and she was ecstatic. I also had a special Halloween “surprise” for her in exchange for her bag of goodies. Fresh figs! (Am I starting to look like a witch yet? Hehehe).
Year 3: Sushi
This year she is 4 and she has already recited the agenda for Halloween night, with an excitement around the exchange of goods and the big question around what the special surprise momma is going to have for her. I realize the stakes are higher this year- she’s older and has friends now that will tell her the next day at school how many candies they got. I need to think of something good, and what’s better than a twist on Anika’s favourite food- sushi. I plan to get her a special roll she has been eye-ing for a while now. It’s a sushi roll with coconut rice and strawberries…delicious goodness.
I have yet to see how things pan out this Halloween. I want Halloween to be a positive childhood experience for my daughter, so I’ll continue to emphasize with her the excitement around ALL the Halloween traditions (not just the getting-candy-from-strangers part). It’s a learning process and as she gets older we’ll have to adjust and come up with ideas that suit both parties- but usually the one with sorcerer powers has the last say ;)
If there’s a smidgen of truth to what the lady, who is handing out letters instead of candy to overweight children said, it’s her argument that it takes a village to raise a child (despite that her actions seem to be more segregational). If there was real magic to happen, it would be that with each Halloween the treats given out would get healthier; and when the time came for Anika to dump out her bag of goodies she could keep all of her Halloween treasures.
You might ask; Where does the bag of goodies disappear to after the exchange?
Hehehehahaha… (my best witch laugh) POOF!
Please leave comments, thoughts, ideas!
*Link to article: http://www.wect.com/story/23825301/woman-plans-to-hand-out-letters-to-overweight-trick-and-treaters