Thursday, October 16, 2014

Treats without the tricks

It is intriguing how many times the kids, at random, talk about how scary the Halloween decorations were at certain houses on their Trick-or-Treat neighborhood routes through the years. There are houses they visited 3, 4, even 5 years ago that they still say they won't go to again because they were too scary. These conversations have become more frequent in the last couple of weeks as folks are once again decorating their front yards/houses for Halloween. Whilst some of the decorations are merely strings of glowing, smiling jack-o-lanterns, many of the decorations are far more morbid.

I've struggled for years with the celebration of Halloween, a significant part of this American culture in which I live. I feel that Halloween traditions & expressions are in conflict with my faith.

However, because it has been celebrated at school (no longer), in our community (Halloween Parade & Trick or treat night), and by all of the kids' friends, I caved to the pressures and established some loose "rules" ... the kids costumes were not allowed to be scary or represent anything "evil" — so they've been PBS children's TV characters, movie characters, Disney characters, a hero, a princess, a robot, a mermaid, a pirate (a very friendly one), a dragon rider, a fairy ... to name a few. And after Trick-or-Treating each year we have always screened the {ridiculous volume of} candy, paring it down to the "purest" & best, giving away the rest. Then we carefully rationed it so it was not all eaten at once. Every Halloween we still have last year's Halloween candy in the cupboard. {sigh}

Recently, I have become increasingly concerned about the volume & ingredients of the candy (sugar or HFCS & artificial everything) that the kids collect during Trick-or-Treat night. My concern stems from being the mother of an ADD child, and observing the behavior that candy consumption causes to said child. In addition, the conversations around the scary decorations are getting deeper and more revealing too. The kids are genuinely disturbed & scared by some of them, and some of the costumed homeowners handing out candy and teens that troll the streets.

So this year I proposed the idea to forego Trick or Treating. The idea was met with some resistance at first, but that lasted maybe ten minutes. I talked with the kids about my concern over the candy, how unhealthy it is, how much they collect, how much we give away (I actually feel guilty about giving candy we won't eat away to others!) and how much of it we don't eat and gets thrown out anyway. So I have promised that instead of going Trick-or-Treating that we would have a fun night out, full of {healthier-but-still-very-yummy} treats, but no tricks. Papa will be teaching on TorT night, so we are all going to a movie together the night after. WIN. WIN.

For the past three years or so, we have marched in our community's Halloween Parade, another Halloween highlight for the kids. Given we are not going Trick or Treating, there is no need for costumes this year. It was our Princesita who put the pieces together and made an awesome suggestion ... "Why don't we watch the parade this year, because we don't get to see it when we are in it!" Brilliant idea!


So, it is not a full-on boycott of all things Halloween. We'll just be participating from a different perspective. Wednesday night we'll watch the community Halloween Parade. Thursday night we'll enjoy some Fun & Treats (whilst everyone else Trick or Treats), and Friday we'll catch a family movie. Somewhere in there, we'll carve a friendly Jack-O-Lantern. My faith can compromise with all that for now.