As you may recall from last year’s posts about Halloween, I’m not a huge fan. Of course I loved it as a kid: dressing up in silly costumes, going trick-or-treating in the chilly evening without a coat (because that would cover up the costume, of course) until my pillow case was full of candy (most of which would never get eaten), parades at school, parties with friends, you name it. My healthy-minded mother loathed Halloween because of the single pointed focus on sugar. It was a catch 22 situation: she had to make the decision to either allow the candy and deal with crazy sugared-up kids, or deny the candy and deal with whiny, nagging kids who didn’t understand why they were sent out to collect candy that they weren’t allowed to eat. Seriously, none of it makes sense, and none of it was part of the original meaning of the holiday.

Warning: this will probably come off preachy. Don’t worry, there are some “healthier Halloween” tips at the end.

This year, for many families in the Northeastern United States, Hurricane Sandy has gotten in the way of Halloween. My family was lucky. We lost power, cable, internet, and phone service for less than a day. We have some leaves and small branches to clean up. And that is it. We still have our home, our lives, and our livelihood. I hear stories from friends and family members in New York and New Jersey who have endured serious damage and have suffered major losses and it breaks my heart. Really this Halloween has turned into Thanksgiving for my family and many others. However, what I’m seeing in social media leads me to believe that this isn’t the case for many.
Most towns surrounding mine have moved trick-or-treating and other Halloween festivities to the weekend because while our area was luckier than others, there are still many trees and power lines down and many people are still without power. My own town has made the recommendation to move it to Friday, but they won’t interfere with families and neighborhoods who want to trick or treat today. So now people are consumed with the thoughts of “I don’t want to answer the door twice”, and “should we go today or Friday”, and “I don’t want to have to buy candy twice”…while others are saying to just let the trick-or-treating happen since the kids have been cooped up indoors all week and just go with the flow.

Really?

Wait, weren’t you here Wednesday?
Millions of people not too far away are without power; many have lost homes, cars, small businesses; and some have lost their lives and the focus is on whether or not families have to buy candy and answer the door for trick-or-treaters TWICE?! I’m all for thinking positive and accepting what I cannot change, and all that but seriously I think that if and when to “celebrate” Halloween (a holiday which does hold traditions of its own of which the majority of people are completely unaware—instead it’s all about the CANDY) should really be the bottom of the list of priorities just a day and a half after one of the worst storms in US history has destroyed so many lives.
I do think it’s OK to resume normal activities as much as possible in the wake of a disaster—stopping daily life doesn’t help anyone or change anything. I just think a little perspective is in order. If you want to trick-or-treat, do it. If you don’t want to buy extra candy or answer the door on two different nights, don’t do it. It’s really as simple as that.
I will put my 2 cents in about the candy though—don’t forget that sugar is a drug. It is the most addictive drug in the United States that many of us become addicted on as children. Justifying candy-centric rituals as holiday activities doesn’t change that.

Many people ask what I give to trick-or-treaters at my door.

There was a really funny cartoon shared on Facebook by Dr.Mark Hyman showing people handing out chia seeds, nori chips, and psyllium husks (to reset digestion) to costumed trick-or-treaters. I shared it on my page, and found it funny that I have all of those items on hand in my pantry but I’d actually have to go shopping for candy. Here it is:
No, I won’t be giving out chia seeds, nori chips, and psyllium husks at my door on either night of trick-or-treating this year (mostly because I can’t AFFORD to!). But I won’t be giving out chemically flavored and colored, GMO candy either. This is a great time to hit the dollar store or party store for plastic eyeball rings, Halloween pencils and erasers, and other inexpensive Halloween goodie bag stuffers. I also don’t mind giving out small squares of dark chocolate or snack packs of pretzels or crackers. If the kids don’t like it, they don’t have to come here next year. Half the time I don’t really think kids even pay attention to what goes into the treat bags anyway…so there you have it.

What do I do with the candy my kids bring home?

I go through and check each piece (which every parent should do anyway, for safety), and pick out the least offensive ones. I allow them to choose a few among those and the rest gets taken to the dentist. Yes, the dentist. Our dentist’s office allows the kids to cash in their candy for real money—they get a dollar for every pound they donate. Not that I think anyone needs donations of candy, but I think it is a better option than allowing it to sit around the house. Although technically I could keep it around to give out next Halloween—that stuff is so jacked up with preservatives it won’t spoil in just one year!
Anyway, enjoy Halloween or don’t enjoy Halloween—but please do take some time to send prayers to those who have been affected by Sandy. Remember to be thankful for people and things in your life that you are fortunate to have—electricity, food, shelter, a job, etc. Instead of shelling out money on extra candy, consider donating that money (and more if you can) to an organization who is helping these people recover and get back on their feet like the American Red Cross or Feeding America.

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