Treats? What treats?

Another year and yet another assortment of crap busting out of our children’s pumpkin-colored goody bag. A handful of sugar tantrums and cavities along the way and we’ll be sending our little angels (and devils) out again, same time next year. And so it goes.

Peer pressure is a funny thing. We are educated people. We know lollipops are bad for our children, yet we suck up to the social mores that allow us to dish them out with abandon as though we are above reproach for such things. Now I know that most of you will call me a bore and an old fuddy-duddy (or worse), but isn’t it time we took a look at these practices and adapted them for the 21st century? I love the fun in dressing our kids in fancy costumes. I love the magic of it too and the way it stimulates their imaginations and senses of adventure. But instead of sugar-coated, sugar-filled, sugar drops, why not fruit? Or homemade cookies where we know exactly what went into them?

The trouble is we don’t want eggs on our doors any more than we want eggs on our faces. And when we drop the kids at school in the morning, we don’t want to be the ones who find accusatory fingers pointing at us from the bereft hands of disappointed children with a bowl full of plums on their bedside table.

So I’d like to make a proposal. Next year, let’s work as a community to introduce real treats into the Halloween bags: treats that are good for our children as well as our conscience. It will take some effort. We’ll need suggestions and recipes. And we’ll need courage and conviction if we are to pull it off. But we have to. I don’t know about you but, frankly, I’m having trouble with the dentist bills.

Re: Treats? What treats?


You bring up some excellent points, and although I would prefer the treats were homemade, it seems to me all to many of us our missing the larger point. Halloween like all holidays is no more about the candy than it is about the costumes. They are simply the set dressing for family and community filled occasion. Here in America Halloween has gotten so big and so commercialized (shouldn’t kids learn the value in making their costumes) that we as parents have lost focus.

For example I live on a street where the neighbors all know each other and remarkably we all get along. But instead of banding together to make the occasion a memorable neighborhood event, we all drive our kids down the hill to a street that has become famous for dishing out the corporate confections. So instead of using the opportunity for the neighbors to share some fun filled frights, our kids ring the doorbells of strangers to collect processed candy bars from strangers. Where’s the dialog? Where’s the connection. What are the lessons we are teaching our children?

I’m with you on your mission to introduce real treats into the goody bag and I for one am going to do it with my neighbors and not with the strangers. What could be sweeter than that?

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I was listening to National Public Radio in LA this evening and there was a piece on “Trick or Treat Etiquette”, advice to parents on how to protect your children from the dangers that lurk behind closed doors in “your community”. It brought a rueful smile to my face, tinged with terrible sadness. What have we created?

Your comment really resonates. We could be on to something. Pity we didn’t start this discussion earlier.

Next year in Your Living Room.

Re: Treats? What treats?

This morning I ran into yet another neighbor who wanted to know where my kids were. We really missed the ball. We didn’t have one trick or treater (or if we did we weren’t here to answer the door) and still I manage to have egg all over my face.

Next year in my living room indeed!

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The all powerful candy lobby would never let this happen— the moment this idea started to take off, you’d suddenly get strange phone calls in the middle of the night, a single tootsie-roll placed in your mailbox, and wake up with a sticky lemon-head in your bed.

In all seriousness, I like this proposal although to be honest I have no problem whatsoever letting kids indulge one night a year. I don’t believe that lollys are actually quantifiably ‘bad’ for children, as long as they are consumed in moderation.

I grew up in a strict no-sugar household (I should say, no refined sugar, as fresh honey and fruit were everywhere) but we were still allowed Hallowe’en.

Best way to actually make a change is lead by example— make something so darn good, that the other kids ask for it by name from their parents.

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You are right of course… even bad things in moderation is OK (I only have alcohol on Monday, Wednesday, and the weekend, after all).

I also think it would be smart to involve the children in the process. We need great cookie recipes and clever things to do with fruit with which they can get involved.

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I agree that it, Halloween, has been “Americanized”. Causing guilt for parents and glazing over simple traditions to make money (now stepping down off soapbox). On the other hand, I live in a nice community just down the road from apartments where families work hard to give their kids just the basics. They come down to the village, some with costumes and some making the best with what they have. I always give them candy and a smile and they in turn, believe it or not, say thank you. You’re only a kid once and for some of these kids it is a small moment of ecstatic joy and glowing peace that is not common in their lives. I know, because I see it in their faces. It is a small beginning of hope and well worth the few cents to ignite it.

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I agree with all of you! I do remember as a kid though - that adults told us that we were never allowed to eat anything that was not -pre-packaged -and sealed —no fruits, homemade treats -allowed. maybe it was because I was a kid in the 80’s and there was the tylenol tampering poisoning scare, and things of the sort. I guess we all trick or treat in our community though within a small circle of blocks, and take confections only from the neighbors we know! ;)

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Alas, I remember this fear long before some schmuck put poison in the Tylenol. What this really speaks to is our fear of strangers. Nobody was ever scared of getting a brownie from a neighbor — unless they couldn’t bake — but when we take the community out of the equation then parents have reason for concern. This gives me all the more reason to make sure that next year Halloween is grounded in my neighborhood.

Re: Treats? What treats?