Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Monday Musings - Deliberately Delayed 'til Wednesday!

Okay, so I've been thinking about this for a while, but I didn't want to be a Halloween downer.  A Great Pumpkin naysayer.  A "Grinch" out of time.  Still, I've just got to talk about it.

I find that I can't "do" Halloween anymore.  No, seriously.  I love getting the kids all "costumed up", decorating the house with pumpkins and kitties and not-scary ghosties, but when it comes to trick-or-treating (or the oh-so-silly harvest festivals), I hit a full-stop.  My conscience kicks in and screams "this is wrong".  No, not for religious reasons.

For basic values reasons...

I find that I can't, in good conscience, hand out tons of candy to kids when I think it is so terribly bad for them.  Day in and day out we are bombarded with information about and images of obese or overweight children.   How can I possibly be celebrating them by handing them fistfuls of candy (or encouraging others to do so)? 

I've thought a lot about this.  Really.  I've talked to others about this and a few things become clear:  When we were kids (back when the dinosaurs had recently given up control of the earth and Thomas Edison was close to inventing the lightbulb), candy was not a daily treat.  No.  In fact, I think Halloween and Easter were the "candy" holidays.  Oh, you might have gotten a little bit in your Christmas stocking or a little Valentine's treat, but that was it.  Teachers didn't hand it out for behaving (don't get me started) and moms didn't keep it at home for us.  Nope.  For the average kid, candy was a "once in a blue moon" treat, which is why trick-or-treating was so amazing.  Candy...lots of it...over-flowing...we had stars in our eyes.  We also knew we wouldn't being seeing candy again for a while.

Fast forward a number of years (okay, a lot of years) and candy is ubiquitous.  Teachers hand candy out to students for all kinds of things.  Parents think nothing of the little bag of M&Ms or whatever on a daily basis.  Candy is everywhere, all the time.  And our children are suffering.  A lot.

So, for me, I just can't do it.  I can't give out candy. 

This year, we did our 2nd Annual "Dress-up" for Halloween and I took the kids out for a fancy-ish dinner in their finery and then we went to a movie.  They loved it.  Buttercup spent two weeks putting the finishing touches on her outfit, I pinky-promised to wear a dress (and did), and Valiant wore dress clothes, too (no was supposed to be fun!).  Even Charming joined us for the evening.  I got us home far past the time last trick-or-treater would have been ringing my doorbell (not answering on Halloween makes me feel horrible).  I know it is not perfect, but I think we're going to fine tune this new "tradition" and make it a keeper.  It works for us.  (I know it would be more difficult if my children were younger...costumes are just so fun and I don't know how I'd explain why we didn't dress-up...maybe we'd begin hosting a party for families...I just don't know.)

So, what about you?  How do you reconcile it all?  Or do you think I'm making much ado about nothing?  Tell me, what do you think?


Anonymous said...

Well, we are one of the family's that does not keep candy in the house - so the concept of a ton of candy is still a novelty. I guess I hadn't really thought about the rest of the kids and the way they may or may not see candy - part of having a preschooler, we still live in our own bubble.

I've always handed it out because, I went trick or treating as a child and figured if I did it as a kid, I should "return the favor" as an adult - plus my daughter loves (love loves) to trick or treat so I wouldn't feel right sending her out (with Dad of course) and not staying home to hand out the goods myself.

I'm not sure how many years my little Boo will have of trick or treating - when we first moved here we always had over 150 kids, this year we had 12...and we handed out candy over two days! Society is changing, there is no doubt about that. I hadn't really thought about candy overload contributing to the lack of kids ringing the bell. Huh - food (candy!) for thought.

I will say this - my daughter was so excited to have some special treats and after inspection, she picked out three pieces she thought she may enjoy...all three pieces ended up in the garbage and she asked to have Triscuits instead. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Trying again...We celebrate it just as we always have. It is not Halloween candy that makes children obese. It is too much sweeten drinks (something we had even less frequency than Halloween candy) and lack of exercise that makes children obese. It is eating at too many restaurants instead of home cooked meals. The average restaurant meal is now three-four times larger than it was in 1950 and it's eaten 5 or more times a week. When I was a kid we only ate out on vacation.
As a child, my grandfather was a candy salesman. We had unlimited supplies of candy and were not discouraged from eating it whenever we wanted. I was underweight until I had my 1st baby.
But you have to decide what is best for your family. I also don't feel a need for a "safe alternative" to Halloween. Our neighborhood is safe and we go with our children, so I feel very safe in my own neighborhood trick or treating. Others don't feel that way.
I love Halloween and am able to also control what my children eat and how often, so I don't have an issue with them getting too much. I can dole it out, even to the teenager. I can also control how many houses I allow her to go to. So I don't really think its that big an issue. But you do, so you have to decide what works for your family. Dinner out may be a good tradition, just make sure to watch portion sizes, especially now that they are older anyway.

OmnivorousReader said...

we gave out Play-doh for the second year in a row & it was a hit (again) - only at Halloween do kids say, "Yeah - black Play-doh!"