Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Candyless Revolution

Candyless. I know that sounds like it would be like a curse word to me. In this case, it actually isn't. Be patient and I'll get to the point.

I'll preface this whole entry by stating what I've probably stated before. I despise Halloween. In a general sense. Always have. I never really wanted to be anyone but me. Even as a kid, it was always a scramble to come up with a costume, there were always costume technical difficulties and there were some really poor choices. Like, in sixth grade, I was a hooker. Yep. A hooker. It was in the whole 80's, Love is a Battlefield era where hookers looked like Madonna, or Madonna looked like a hooker, and it was all socially acceptable. I wasn't the only sixth grade hooker walking around in a matchy diagnol sweatshirt-skirt combo and a high side ponytail swathed in a giant bow. In any event, it was bad all around. Bad idea, bad outfit, and bad that no one's parents questioned this sort of costume. I'm pretty sure that wouldn't fly now. It's been way too many years since Julia Roberts also made hooking seem like a fairy tale and harmless Halloween costume.

I just remembered that one time I went to one of those well-known NYC loft Halloween parties when I was single and in my late 20's. Again, last minute scramble for a costume. I have a ridiculous amount of formal dresses so I decided to be Miss New Jersey. Or Miss USA. Some kind of Miss. Now, that may seem like a huge ego thing but it actually was my only answer to still being cute but not trying to compete with every "Sexy ___________" (police woman, nurse, whatever) who would also be in attendance. I was going to this party with other girls who looked like they spend all day in the gym. We were all single and looking to mingle. I couldn't pull off a bare stomach and fishnets so I tried to go a more wholesome route. I'd already done hooker before I knew what one actually was. I wore a long gown, a sash, and faux-fur wrap. Thank goodness for that wrap because I realized when I got there that I forgot to shave my armpits. I spent the whole party sweating my ass off because I couldn't take off that fur. Nightmare. Curse you Halloween. Somehow I also ended up on the subway, alone, after midnight, without my shoes. I should've dressed as Cinderella.

I pretty much have no good Halloween memories. One year, when I was around three, I was in a wheelchair because a kid ran over me with a bicycle. Broke my leg and I had a cast from hip to toe. But I have a kid now and of course, without question, he LOVES Halloween. He loves ALL holidays, from the obscure to the big ones. He really enjoys himself some Halloween. He doesn't eat candy though. That's another topic altogether. Long story short- he doesn't really ask and I don't see a need to give it to him. I don't want to hear the whole moderation spiel. He's a weird kid when it comes to any food. Including candy. I've said before- he eats to live, not lives to eat. Even if he did ask for some, if I said no, that would just be the end of it. He just doesn't care. I'm not going to give it to a kid who isn't begging for it. Just no need.

His first Halloween he was too little to know anything about candy. He was like ten months old. The next year - same thing. He wasn't even two. Then the next two years we had weird storms that pretty much cancelled Halloween. Candy was the least of our problems when we had snow and no power in October. Last year was his first "real" Halloween. He was almost five. He got candy and guess who ate it? Yup. Halloween is like the official start of the Fall into Winter Eating Frenzy. Another bad idea.

E doesn't have any allergies. But as time goes on and we go further into school, we know A LOT of kids who do have food allergies. Halloween HAS to suck for those kids. Halloween as it's known and been celebrated my whole life, it's been about the candy. The LOOT. I didn't even know until E was in a Jewish preschool that Halloween had any other meaning besides costumes and candy. FYI, Halloween is not a Jewish holiday and therefore not recognized in Jewish school. Score one for me! No Halloween in school for three years of preschool. I was thrilled. I didn't want or need him having a ton of candy and other sweets in school.

Food allergies are no joke. We've all heard of kids dying from an unexpected exposure. The whys aren't important. All that matters is that it's SO easy not to give away a threat to a child's life on this stupid holiday. I heard of the Teal Pumpkin Project and am thrilled. No eating my weight in Reese's Peanut Butter Cups before the kids even get to the door. No late night raids on my cabinets from all the leftover candy we didn't give out. Sure, E will Trick or Treat, and he'll get candy, but it won't be nearly the amount of candy we would've had in the house if we'd been giving out candy too.

The Teal Pumpkin Project is the brainchild of the Food Allergy Research & Education Organization (FARE). It's just a way to include all kids in the Halloween fun by giving out non-food items. With dollar stores and cool places like Five Below, there are more options than ever to find inexpensive non-food items to use as Halloween treats. There are pencils, rubber balls, vampire teeth, whistles, tattoos, etc.

You paint a pumpkin teal and leave it out. You should also print out a sign off the FARE site, like the photo I have here on this blog entry, and hang it up on your door or window.

I bought a light-up pumpkin I'm going to spray paint teal in CVS. I also bought these boxes of twenty individual boxes of four temporary tattoos each to give out to the kids instead of candy. They were on sale for $3.19 each. That's way less expensive than bags of the "good" candy. If other kids are like my son, they LOVE those tattoos. He can never have enough of them. I'm not a big fan of them myself, but, well, Halloween is supposed to be about the kids, right? Tattoos for all then.

I'm sure there will be people who are negative and have an issue with this new version of Halloween. Some people don't like change and not giving out candy is blasphemous to them. Great- give out candy then. No one said you have to stop. All this project is doing is recognizing that Halloween doesn't have to suck for the kids who can't have candy. They get to Trick or Treat too without knowing they're going to have to chuck their whole bag in the garbage after all their trekking around. I'm for it. Because even if your kid doesn't have food allergies, less food dye being handed out in candy form can only be a positive change in my book. I'll still be eating all E's collected loot and will be dancing around with whatever peanut butter cups I can forage out of there but I want to be part of the new non-candy-giving revolution. It's just too easy of a fix NOT to do it this way.

All I know is that I would've been through at least half a bag of candy I'd bought to give out by now. So far, I've just had a few random pieces that E's picked up at some pre-Halloween festivities. He's awful at picking out the good stuff so there has also been slim pickings.

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