In the early morning hours she was giggling to herself. I walked down the hall, trying to decipher the babble that interspersed the laughs and burst through my two-year-old’s door with an exuberant “Good morning!” She looked up at me grinning from ear to ear and said, “I wanna eat the candies!” I stifled a laugh, but was glad Noel had hidden her bulging bag of candy from our church’s trunk-or-treat so breakfast could stand a fighting chance.
I remember Halloween as a kid. Carrying giant pillowcases in hopes of acquiring enough candy to equal my body weight without a thought about how unhealthy it all was. These days, holidays aren’t as simple for me. I lament over what kind of stocking stuffers I want to give my kids and what to put in their Easter baskets as your average Jane and a hippie perch on each of my shoulders, debating the pros and cons of commercialism, processed foods, and enjoying the spirit of the season. Now, let’s be clear, I’m not opposed to fun or treats, in fact I’m a huge fan of both, but rather I’m opposed to the quantity and quality that often come with holidays. I’ve come up with satisfying solutions for many holidays, but Halloween, probably because of it’s communal nature, is the holiday that just won’t stop driving me crazy. Every year I rack my brain trying to figure out what to hand out, but I feel like I have conflicting criteria. I want it to be fun, I want it to be affordable, and I don’t want it to be junk (neither the kind you ingest or toss in the landfill). My mind goes through the rolodex of ideas:Raisins? I don’t want my house to get egged; even I don’t like them.
Glow sticks? But what if they leak? That can’t be good for anyone’s clothes let alone the environment.
Fruit Snacks? Pricey and really not much better than candy.
Cool Pencil toppers? Or am I the only person that thinks those are cute?
Granola Bars? The ones worth buying are too expensive.
Etc, etc, etc
I know, I know, I’ve spent way too much time thinking about this and I swear I’m not one of those crazies that wants all candy to be banned, I just don’t think kids need so much of it. Time and time again I come back to the idea of how I wish I could pass out something free of commercial packaging (like a clementine) or, gasp, even something homemade, but I worry it will freak out parents. I know everyone is worried about people poisoning kids candy (although you shouldn’t be) and for some reason big companies are more trust-worthy than your neighbor, even though I’ve never accidentally slipped a razor blade into any of my treats and I’ve never had to recall anything because I wasn’t 100% sure of the ingredients. As I was discussing all of this with Noel, who has been a fountain of patience as Halloween draws nearer, he prudently said, “Everyone should be less worried about people poisoning their kids candy, but about the poison the candy already is.”* So I decided to make my own treats and do a trial run at our church’s trunk-or-treat (where people are generally kind and my reputation in the kitchen is generally good) just to see if I created any hullabaloo. I chose something simple: chocolate dipped/drizzled pretzels and created a simple label listing our name and all the ingredients. So far no one has complained or reported me to authorities and I felt significantly less guilty about not contributing as much to the processed food, sugar craze. As for actual Halloween, I finally decided I’d spent way too much time deliberating and decided to just hand out bouncy balls. Perhaps next year I’ll gather the courage and energy to hand out homemade treats in the neighborhood on Halloween. What do you think? Would you be weirded out if your neighbor handed out homemade treats on Halloween?