I’m pretty blunt and open in this blog post. All thoughts mentioned below are mine, and my thoughts alone. This is in no way an effort to persuade or convince my lovely readers of anything. It’s simply a collection of points and conclusions I have gathered after examining my own life and doubts surrounding this time of the year. Please read with an open mind.
1. Candy is Unhealthy:
My Instagram account and website are designed to encourage parents to serve healthy food for kids. I believe that the food we need to build strong bones and healthy bodies are found in fresh fruits, leaves etc…so participating in a holiday that glorifies the over consumption of products that are filled with refined sugar, glycerine (usually made of animal fat or vegetable oil), makes me a huge hypocrite. Refined sugar is addictive, messes with our blood sugar levels, and cancer feeds on it. Children don’t know any better, and although mine have tasted junk food before, I think dedicating a day where we use it as an object of our celebration is a bit extreme. It sends mixed messages to my kids…which brings me to my next point.
2. Sends a Bad Message to the Kids:
Everything in moderation, right? If we eat mostly healthy meals during the other months, who cares if we have candy during one time of the year? No big deal, right? Actually, it’s a huge deal. Many of us spend 11 months of the year trying to show our children that fruits and vegetables are the perfect fuel for their bodies. We tell them “candy is bad” and that they should stay away from it. Then we have this one month, where we gradually build up excitement to one designated day where we go door-to-door, and collect those same frowned upon items…from complete strangers. The one time we get to dress in fun costumes, and run around at night, also happens to be the one time we’re collecting edible products that are also linked to child obesity, behavioural issues, tooth decay etc. We dress up in fun costumes, fill up bags up with these disease causing products, and consume them indoors. It’s the epitome of all cheat days.
I know we like to justify this by saying “Everything in Moderation”, but poison is poison. It’s one thing to have something every blue moon, and another dedicate a day to it with man-made traditions, decorations and costumes to convince kids that it’s all in good fun. I grew up on candy and developed quite the (refined, man made) sugar addiction during the years of my life. At one point I couldn’t go a few days without eating Fuzzy Peaches, or Swedish Berries. Since I’ve made the change to a plant based diet, the sugar I get is now from fruits, and it’s amazing how the body can develop a taste for something it wasn’t used to consuming prior. I’ve learned to appreciate and thrive off fruits, so encouraging my kids to jump on this bandwagon really takes us a few steps back.
3. It’s Bad for Me Too:
Last year I ate most of their Halloween candy. They were so not used to eating it that they didn’t really notice or care too much. They were more excited about the experience of going door to door at night. After going through their candy, I had a bit of them everyday until there was nothing left. Although the side effects aren’t immediately seen, there’s no doubt that damage is done when consuming these products. But I think refusing to participate in Halloween doesn’t just show a good example to the kids, but also reduces the temptation for me to eat the garbage as well.
4. Participating Gave me ‘Mom Guilt’:
I was stuck between a rock and a hard place last year. I didn’t like the idea of Halloween altogether, but I didn’t care either way because I know my kids barely eat junk during the remainder of the year. I entertained the idea of just keeping our lights off, but the fact that schools, every TV show, store fronts etc pretty much band together to force this tradition down our throats made it hard to ignore. Last year I felt that if I didn’t participate, our son would return to school feeling left out while the other kids bragged about how much they had collected and how fun it was to be out on a night adventure.
5. Promotes Overconsumption:
We have fellow humans literally starving in other countries, and yet almost every holiday we have in the west promotes over consumption of some kind. Holidays have us spending money on things we wouldn’t get everyday like wrapping paper, special decorations and gifts we can barely afford or wouldn’t normally buy otherwise. We are encouraged to purchase special types of food like chocolate eggs for Easter, a dead turkey for thanksgiving, and cakes and candles for birthdays. Many large companies profit from these seemingly harmless traditions. They’re fun for us, and spread out in a calendar year in such a way where we can build up anticipation to spend, spend, spend. People are starving to death on this earth, and we’re putting wads of our hard earned dollars into the hands of candy, decoration and costume companies. Some of us go as far as purchasing pumpkins (which is a food by the way) to use as decoration for our homes. I’ll repeat this one: Fellow humans are literally starving to death in parts of the world, and it is the norm in Western countries to purchase food to use as decoration.
6. I’m Tired of Conforming:
Last year I asked myself why I was participating in Halloween. When I found myself giving the answer “Because all the other parents are”, it was then that I decided I could probably give it a rest. I have gone through a lot of changes in the last few months and years, and many of them were the result of realizing that just because the generation before us did something, doesn’t mean the tradition makes sense. As an adult with my own mind, I need to sometimes take a step back and decide if a tradition, a meal, a style of clothing etc, is something I side with because I actually believe in the cause, or because it’s just part of the culture.
7. Waste of Cash:
I thought last year about how much we had spent on candy to distribute, plus the cost of costumes, and realized that if I really wanted to get the the point of it all, I could easily just pick up a $2 bag of candy from the dollar store and call it a day. Families that are large in size or strapped for cash shouldn’t have to spend their last few pennies to celebrate one day when they could just buy a few packs of Skittles and hand out to their kids, if that’s the end goal. We’re in love with the process, the anticipation, and I believe that personally, I could find a more productive way to use that energy and funds.
8. There Are Better Causes To Celebrate:
A few people have told me that Halloween is not about the candy, and that it’s more about the experience, the dressing up etc. If that’s the case, I’m sure we could think of a million and one alternative traditions that are more beneficial than begging strangers for candy.
My point is that instead of getting excited about a night that celebrates darkness, fear and food products that are literally poison, maybe we could shift the focus to one that promotes health, peace and life. As I type this, I think perhaps instead of just talking about it, I could put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. Maybe I could create a challenge each month, document our efforts, and try to encourage other families to join in. Would you be interested? If yes, do you have any suggestions for more tasks/activities that promote positivity and health, while also being fun for kids?
9. What We Ended Up Doing For Halloween
I started writing this entry before Halloween, and had to change the title and text a bit because the day came and passed us by. As I mentioned, this was our first year not participating. The boys did wear their costumes from last year to school, and I’m glad I pulled them out, because they would have been the only ones in class without costumes. It’s not my intention to have the kids feel the NEED to fit in or conform to a tradition (that I now oppose to), but at the same time, kids can be cruel, and it really sucks that there’s so much pressure to participate in the first place.
What I ended up doing was picking up some plantain chips, a book that’s easy to read and makes sounds. The boys did ask for a ring pop (it’s a candy for those who don’t know), and I said yes. The reason I said yes is because of a few reasons. I definitely have my own convictions when it comes to food, but I don’t stop them from eating anything, I encourage them to eat a certain way because I want them to live healthy lives and not have any of the health issues I’ve had. I feel like if I forbid them from consuming something, it’s not half as effective as presenting them with the facts, and allowing them to make informed decisions. So our oldest (six years old) told me that he was okay with not going out, but asked for this one candy in particular, and I agreed. They both ate it, read their books together, and then continued with the regular bedtime routine. Actually by the time kids were outside collecting candy, our boys were already in their rooms playing quietly. I saved money by not getting new costumes and handing out candy. I saved the time of dressing them up in layers of clothing (it’s cold out), and walking up and down the streets to collect something that isn’t even beneficial to their bodies in any way, shape or form. I also saved myself the guilt of participating in a cause that I don’t stand for. I know it’s often easier to just go along with everyone else, but that’s not how change happens. If each generation does something simply because the one before them did, there’s no room for independent thought or positive changes. Blindly following traditions is something I want to avoid now, especially if I’m not satisfied when I ask myself WHY I’m doing it in the first place. The funny part is that the boys were excited about Halloween leading up to the day (thanks to heavy promoting at school, on tv, in stores etc), but once we were upstairs playing, there was no thought or mention of Halloween. It’s literally just another day in the week, and only has power and meaning when we allow it to. So we’ve decided to reduce its significance in our home this year, and I’m really happy with how it all turned out.
10. It’s Cold Outside
Canadian weather has no mercy when it comes to this time of the year. Last year when we went out, the kids were freezing and were unhappy after a short amount of time. I eventually had to ask myself if it was even worth the trouble. It was not.
Please Note: All images of us going out for Halloween were taken in 2015. I was seven months pregnant with baby girl <3.