My family loves Halloween. It’s our favorite holiday of the year – we get to decorate the house, wear costumes, go to parties ... and eat candy.
Lots and lots and lots and lots of candy.
In a society of bulging waistlines and bad eating habits in general, I really wish we could go just a little easier on the candy at Halloween.
I mean, what’s wrong with giving out only one small morsel to each trick-or-treater that comes by, instead of big handfuls? What’s wrong with running out at a reasonable hour and saying “sorry, we don’t have any more” instead of buying so much that you’re stuck with pounds of leftovers? What’s wrong with giving out something healthy, instead of candy, or a “trick” like some families used to do when I was a kid? (the idea used to be that you’d give out a trick … OR a treat.)
Sure, it’s just one day a year – but we have more candy sitting on our counter than I’d normally let my kids eat in an entire year. Seriously. Maybe two years.
I tried to be reasonable. I tried to get a small amount of candy, and supplement our offerings with little bags of pretzels. But my own family rebelled. They turned on me. They ridiculed me for wanting to give out pretzels. They went out and bought MORE candy just to make sure we’d contribute to the all American calorie count.
Admittedly, we have a little bit of a pent up Halloween frustration. For three of the past four years, we’ve lived overseas – in Ecuador and Switzerland, countries that don’t take Halloween quite so seriously. Ecuador was fun, they love to have any excuse for a party. Switzerland was kind of interesting – the kids actually got packets of instant “quick soup” from one house that wasn’t quite prepared for guests. They rummaged around the kitchen, and that’s all they could find!
And the one year in between that we DID live in the US, we were in a big apartment building without any other kids – so we didn’t have an outside yard to decorate, and we didn’t get any trick-or-treaters inside the building.
So our last “real” Halloween was five years ago – and at the time, the kids were young enough that we could easily hide all their candy and just give them one piece a day for a few weeks, then stop. When they were little, we would routinely hand out leftovers to all the kids on Halloween the NEXT year! Ok, so maybe it was a little stale ...
But now, my kids are ten and eleven years old, and they are too smart for that. They came back last night with huge pillowcases stuffed with sugary treats, plus we have all the leftovers that we ended up with because – like everyone else in our neighborhood – we bought too much. I have to sit down with them today, and look like the bad guy while I explain that they can NOT have more than one or two pieces a day; and since they have absolutely no self control, I will need to lock up their stash and dole it out to them each afternoon.
As I read more and more news stories about childhood obesity, I can’t help but wonder how much of it is due to Halloween (and all the other out of control holidays). It’s fun, but just another example of America’s overindulgence.