Ask any adult about their Halloween memories and they readily recall their childhood costumes, "I was batman!", or "I was a robot made out of aluminum foil !"
Planning who you would be and anticipating Halloween put an excitement in the air around the house. Finally, dusk on Halloween would fall and there was that magical moment of stepping out of your house to find a chorus of other neighborhood children parading the streets in all kinds of costumes trick or treating. What fun already and then..... jackpot! We all collected a pirate's booty of bags and bags of candy! Arguably, we could have been collecting rocks, (like Pig Pen treating with Charlie Brown) or stickers or potatoes, for that matter, and the night would still have been a hit, I suspect. Why? Because of the whimsical and communal nature of Halloween itself.
So how did candy become a central part of our Halloween experience anyway and should it be? Can't we do better? Shouldn't we do better given what we know.
We know American children are some of the most obese children in the world, alarmingly so. We also know childhood diabetes is on the rise. We also have to know, unless you chose to look the other way, that sugar, is one of the worse culprits contributing to health problems in our country. And, sugar in the hands of impulsive, impressionable, developing and naive children is like giving cigarettes to them on some levels, because it's addictive and damaging to their health in the long run, yet enticingly pleasurable for the moment. Good luck to the parents who have to wrestle away these treats from their little ones or deal with these rascals hyped up on sugar. Once again, we are sending a mixed message to our developing youth that the real reward is a processed, sugary treat.
Halloween like so many of our other festive occasions, has apparently gone the way of the retail rat race. It's another opportunity for us to buy. The National Federation of Retailers reports Americans will spend an amazing 1.5 BILLION dollars on Halloween candy alone! How much of that though will simply turn to waste, dumped in the trash, harden in the back of kitchen cabinets and get stored only to be pulled out next year and handed out to unsuspecting pirates and princesses. Better in the trash than on the teeth of children. With that much money invested, dentists are stepping up with HalloweenCandyBuyBack.com. Through this program, dentists buy your Halloween candy, ship it overseas, to soldiers who could use a bit of comfort in moderation, and your household gets a reprieve from the sugar war.
Most of what we remember, what we love, what we cherish about these festive occasions has more to do with the people we fellowship with, the time we spend with our family and friends and the memories of what happened along the way. Yes, food is central to our pleasure zones and our memory banks but a Billion dollars worth of Halloween candy sold, may be teetering on excessive in monstrous proportions.
This Halloween, be the unpopular house that passes out fruit sticks or some other healthier treat, you may expose a child to a new way of enjoying treats or at the very least, you'll get to turn your porch light off a whole lot earlier next year, when the trick or treaters don't come back.
That brings me to another thing.... we'll get to that next time.
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