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!

Happy Halloween!
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

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8 Responses to Daughter-of-a-Witch

  1. We have a ten-year-old daughter who is quite health-aware as well as lithe, lean, happy and energetic. She knows that the amount of candy she’ll bring back is disproportionate to whats she should eat. She also knows that most of it she will only eat because it’s there and not because it’s candy she actually likes. So we all have agreed to the following:
    – she gets to collect as much as she likes and have fun feeling the thrill of the hunt.
    – when she gets home, she spreads it all out and sorts it, because that’s part of the fun for her.
    – we then give her a small/medium-sized ziplock and she picks out the best stuff and puts it in that bag to eat.
    – the rest gets thrown out because no one in the house needs to waste calories on bad candy & chips that are not worth keeping.

    It works pretty well for us, but I think this has as much to do with the example set by parents as anything else. If the parents don’t buy gobs of the stuff or have it around, kids won’t expect to, either.

    • Love it Vicky- thanks for sharing…the ziplock bag is a fantastic idea! Big believer in parents setting an example and sometimes that’s the hardest part (trust me, I want to dive into my daughter’s bag of goodies just as much as she does!).

  2. What a great idea!!! My little one is only 2 and we’re just going to family this year who have prepared for her and will have things like crayons, balls and ‘healthy’ cookies. But soon she’ll want to go to neighbours like everybody else- I will definitely be trying your exchange idea! Thanks witch;)

    • That’s great, I wish I could set up all the neighbours like that! This year my parents decided to give out goldfish crackers to little trick-or-treaters and chocolate bars to the older kids, but this is rare. Once you get out into the “real world” of trick-or-treating you’ll find that the tinier/cuter the trick-or-treater is, the more generous people are with their handfuls(!) of candy. It’s a lot of fun though- best of luck! -Witch ;)

  3. Great ideas! I always found going out to get the candy and sort it the best part! I also found that at school the next day everyone also their best piece of candy to eat at lunch so maybe consider putting something new in their lunch!

    Instead of throwing out the years candy we always just saved it to hand out the next year!

    • So glad you commented! I will for sure write that down for next year (Anika doesn’t take a lunch to school yet). I decided this year she could pick 4 candies from her stash (4 because she’s 4yo, next year will be 5…). Maybe she could have a bonus couple designated for her lunch the next day or I’m thinking of starting a new tradition of making a pumpkin baked good of some sort (healthy of course) that could also be used for her lunches for the rest of the week. I don’t know how you can save candy for a year, pretty amazing…I would need a lock box!

  4. Jessica,

    Good story to share. I coach a middle school cross country team and 70 out of 90 athletes came to practice on Halloween to get a two mile run in – and THEN they did their Halloween, whatever that may be. It’s all about keeping some balance. I was impressed with the turnout, given the day.

    Thanks for the thinking. The biggest problem “I” have is buying candy ahead of time and getting into it. I try to leave it in the car, in the back, but…

  5. Hi,
    What we do is select the one we want to eat all year long for special occasion or dessert and instead of throwing out the rest, my wife and I leave them on our file cabinet at the office. They disappear real fast and within few day they’re all gone. Keep posting, it’s interesting to discover some non sports related story of yours.

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