my thoughts on halloween

Posted: October 31, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Have you ever heard of Halloween being a controversial holiday? I never really thought much of it until recent years. I never knew that some people do not participate for reasons greater than they simply do not like dressing up in costumes. It never occurred to me that some will not participate due to the original meaning of Halloween and it not coinciding with their beliefs. Until I was a mother, I never considered why someone would hesitate to traipse around to strangers’ houses, stockpiling loads of sugar their kids likely do not need.

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Now, I do realize these things and can certainly understand the reasoning in people who decide to forego Halloween. I still celebrate. Why? I enjoy allowing M to participate in Halloween parties and activities with friends. I know we will have a good time taking a stroll together as a family tonight. And she loves her duck costume!

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Heck, there are plenty of people who celebrate Christmas without believing in Jesus. While I would love them to know Jesus, as I trust in the peace a relationship with him brings, I don’t hold their participation in Christmas festivities against them. We do Halloween because it’s something fun for our daughter and as a family.

The other issue, all the candy, isn’t really an issue at all for me either. Recently I read an article about how kids forced to “clean their plates” or not allowed to have certain foods display less control over their food intake when they do have more freedom. This kind of reminds me of Halloween. I fear that not allowing candy at all would only backfire in my hope for Makenzie to have a healthy relationship with food. I have no issue with her having some candy. Or treats at parties, some bites of our frozen yogurt, a hot dog, some pizza, etc. She has those options regularly enough to where she knows she enjoys them.

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But you know what? She will often eat a bit and then be done. For example, at the Halloween party on Friday, she ate about 1/4 of her cupcake and wanted no more. And on a day to day basis, she shows no issue asking for apples, cheese, broccoli, peas, oatmeal, yogurt, water, grapes, granola, smoothies (green monsters), zucchini, pasta, hummus, etc. She knows and enjoys those foods as well because we persistently expose her to healthy items. Sure, she may have one or two pieces of candy as a special treat. That does not bother me. I personally feel best that those options are actually options for her. I hope it helps her learn balance. Then, she won’t have to give a disclaimer for having a fun-sized candy treat. ;) Did I just say that aloud? Some of you likely know what I’m referring to, so I’ll stop there.

With all that being said, we will trick or treat and collect our share of candy. Then, I will do a mix of the following:

  • having it available when she asks, but not promoting it as the parent
  • mixing it into healthier treats, like putting M&Ms into a trail mix snack
  • saving some of the candy and using it when baking holiday treats
  • freezing candy so it lasts to be eaten sparingly over a longer period
  • if she understands, we can also allow her to trade in candy for other treats/goodies like a new toy (thanks Mama Pea for this idea)

Every person must make his or her own decision. I decide to enjoy a few favorite pieces guilt-free along with my daughter. Then, eat some vegetable stew. Sounds pretty dang good to me! ;) Look for a recap post with my “costume”, trick-or-treating action, & a recipe for the veggie stew tomorrow morning. :D

  • How was your weekend?
  • Do you ever think of Halloween as controversial?

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58 Comments to “my thoughts on halloween”
  1. You are such an inspiration as a mom, Tina! I admit I haven’t thought much about this, probably since I don’t have children, but I think those are great ideas. And I am adamant in believing that I have always had a healthy attitude about food because my parents never restricted a thing from us.

  2. I once heard (or read) someone say that forcing kids to clean their plates is one of the worst things you can do to a child, because it teaches them to override their natural hunger/fullness signals.

    I believe it.

    Have fun tonight. I’ll be at the office, working on putting together Monday’s newspaper.

  3. Becca says:

    You have such a great attitude regarding “sharing” Christmas with those of a different or no faith. There’s no doubt that sharing time with family is one of the key aspects of the holiday, and that’s always something that should be encouraged.

    I think one important thing regarding candy and other such foods is to not make them treats. I think that if we have such things mainly on happy occasions, or as rewards, we place too much weight on the foods themselves. We then do things like eat to cheer ourselves up, or to celebrate, when we’d be better off choosing other means.

  4. I love that my mother never made candy or food a big issue in my household. If I wanted some, I had some. And since it was “ok” to have some–I didn’t eat a ton! Certainly never made myself sick like I have in the past few years bc in my mind, I shouldnt have it :)

    You are doing great by M and she looks absolutely adorable!

  5. I’ve never really thought of it as controversial, but I definitely don’t think of it as a holiday. I don’t really celebrate halloween but I’m sure when I have kids I’ll dress them up in cute costumes like your cutie pie!

    • Tina says:

      I don’t really view it as a holiday either…more just a fun activity. I hadn’t really participated in Halloween festivities from college until this year when I felt M was old enough to dress up and trick or treat.

  6. Katrina says:

    Oh yes, it is definitely controversial. Many people I know do not celebrate it due to the history of Halloween. I was raised with a healthy guidance that there are other opinions about Halloween and if I had a concern about it, I was encouraged to talk about it. Many of my friends in high school didn’t participate at all. As a K teacher, I enjoy getting excited with the kids and sharing a lot of fun fall-themed activities with them.
    As far as candy, well, I’m off sugar now so all the candy I got as teacher gifts is going to the gym on monday for “candy buy back”. They give money for each quarter pound of candy.

  7. I love your collection of ideas as to what to do with M’s candy collection. Everything in moderation. My mom never restricted my siblings and myself when we were younger, and the four of us grew up to be very healthy eaters! (yes, I do eat very healthy despite my love for baking!) :)

  8. Jess says:

    I really love your approach to parenting, Tina. It falls right in line with your balance mantra (mine too!) – I’m SO with you on not forcing your children to ONLY eat certain things or forcing them to clean their plate all the time. A little treat here and there is totally fine – it’s so true, the minute you say “you cannot have that” is when you suddenly MUST have whatever is on the “bad” list of foods or whatever.

  9. Kelly says:

    I definitely understand what you are saying. My best friend gorwing up was not allowed to have any food with sugar listed as the first 5 ingredients. In theory this sounds great but now as adult (yes we are still friends) she has a serious addiction to sugar. She suffers from sugar binges and she simply goes crazy around candy. I can’t obviously say for 100% certain but I do believe the reason she is so sugar obsessed is because she was literally denied it as a child. Sometimes the best of intentions backfire. I see nothing wrong with Halloween. When I was a kid we were allowed to have 3 peices when we got home from trick or treating. I remember my brother and I spending a good 20 minutes carefully selecting out three treats. Then we would usually get a peice in our school lunch for a few weeks until we grew tired of it and moved on. We never finished our candy collections ever. But by knowing we weren’t denied it we simply ate a peice here and there and never thought more about it.

    • Tina says:

      That’s exactly why I don’t want her feeling she can’t have things. Plus, I bet she forgets about it really fast.

      Funny thing…at one house they had a bowl full of candy, then some raisins and granola bars mixed in. She got to pick her treat…she went for the raisins. ;)

  10. I don’t think I have ever thought of it as controversial either, but now I see how it could be. I know I’ll be using these tips when I have a little one! Happy Halloween!

  11. Becca says:

    You are such a good mom to M! I love your candy ideas. :)
    I think I eat more sweet stuff than I should, but I was never deprived of candy or forced to eat everything on my plate. If I didn’t eat as much as my parents would’ve liked me to eat, I wouldn’t be allowed to have ice cream that night, or whatever, but it was never “You’re not allowed to leave the table until all of your food is gone!” or anything.
    Have you seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? With Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka? There’s a scene in there that would make me hate Halloween forever. =\

    I know that Halloween is controversial, and has a crazy history. One of our lessons at church last year was holidays–we did Easter, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Christmas all in one night! (And birthdays, though those aren’t technically holidays.) We watched videos explaining some of the history behind certain holiday traditions, and one of the things that stuck with me was that Trick-or-Treating began as extortion: people took their neighbors’ stuff (part of their fence, their dog, whatever) and the people who got stuff stolen from them appeased the thieves with things they wanted. Ever heard “Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat. If you don’t, I don’t care, I’ll pull down your underwear!” ? Yeah, that’s essentially how Trick-or-treating started. I didn’t know that until last year. Nobody thinks of it like that (extortion) anymore. That’s just the history behind it. Doesn’t necessarily apply today. Trick-or-Treating is fun!

    “The sky is blue, the grass is green, may we have our Halloween?” — Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard of NCIS. That’s how he said “Trick-or-treat” in Scotland. :)

    • Tina says:

      Yea, the history of things is really interesting and how they start. Like you said, it doesn’t really apply to today though.

  12. Meg says:

    I’ve been meaning to tell you– that duck costume is adorable! I’m not really into the scary part of halloween (or scary things in general) but I knew a girl growing up whose family absolutely had nothing to do with halloween. To each their own!

  13. Oh man, that duck costume is just way too cute!

  14. i contradict myself at halloween. i see healthier options for the trick or treaters but end up saying “no we’ll just get the junk food that the kind will like and expect” and even i start eating it yet normally i dont have kitkats and reeses etc. but moderation they say is key..soo hmm…lol

    • Tina says:

      Yea, we bought candy to pass out as well (and have way too much leftover). I thought about pretzels or other things, but they’re actually a lot more expensive. Now, I wish we had gotten those because we have so much leftover. LOL

      Into the freezer it goes!

  15. Really love this post and it’s something I am going to keep in mind as I raise Sophie. I want her to have a healthy relationship with food and I think that she will if I keep the emphasis off “good food” vs “bad food.” I will never label food as bad, but will always encourage her to make healthy choices while still having some of the fun stuff too.

  16. Tina says:

    You bring up such a great point, if you do “forbid” children to eat certain things like junk food, candy, etc, it may make them see those foods as forbidden, therefore giving them more allure. No food should be off limits, instead the focus should just be on healtheir options. Kids especially are great at listening to their bodies because they haven’t been surrounding with all the “diet talk” yet. Great post! Happy Halloween! :)

    ps. Great name ;)

  17. I know Halloween is controversial to some people, but it has never been controversial to me. I love everything about Halloween! And I will definitely allow my child to eat candy…especially on holidays. Like you, I wouldn’t want my kids to feel like certain foods are off limits.

  18. I never really thought of Halloween as controversial. Have fun trick or treating with M tonight! :)

  19. You daughter’s gorgeous!
    My mum never let us go trick-or-treating when we were little but only because she thought it was over-commercialised…
    I know some people do get offended, I think because of its “pagan roots” but I think it’s just fun for the kids and I think if people don’t like it, don’t get involved!

  20. Tatianna says:

    Oh my gosh! She is too cute for words in that costume… no wonder you wanted to go out on the town! I actually had an outfit just like that when I was a toddler, except it was a giant orange pumpkin. Haha!

    I actually love your approach to Halloween. I would have never drawn that parallel between Halloween and Christmas either, which makes a wonderful point.
    <3

  21. Growing up, we never had candy, so when Halloween rolled around, I’d GORGE myself. I think there’s a lot of truth to what you’re saying- you should offer the treats occasionally and the healthy stuff most of the time, so kids learn from experience from the time they’re young!! Love your thoughts!

  22. Growing up, my sister and I were not allowed to go trick or treating or even believe in Santa, because of my mom’s religious views. For Halloween, we did go to church fall festivals and received plenty of candy and dressed up. While I understand her not wanting to take away from the real meaning of Christmas, I have to admit that I feel rather gypped (had to look up that spelling) by missing out on the magic of santa claus. While I do not have any children yet, I would like them to still enjoy the holidays while understanding the true meaning of the holidays. Those are just my thoughts.

    Thanks for a great post!

    • Tina says:

      That was a pretty big topic for Peter & I. He never did Santa with his family and doesn’t care for the commercialization of it. I didn’t want M to miss out. So we compromised by having Santa but using him to share a lesson that ties in with Christmas. Santa is a man who gives out toys because he wants to share love with the children, like Jesus share his love for us by coming from heaven. And we also have a little birthday “party” for Jesus and other things to focus more on the true meaning of Christmas so it doesn’t get lost in the mix of presents.

  23. I fully agree with everything you said in this post 100%. While we want to raise our future children to be healthy as possible, we could never possibly deny them the fun of eating a treat here or there, we do it ourselves! As far as Halloween goes, as a Christian, I do believe you can celebrate. Some of my fondest memories as a child were at Halloween.

  24. I have a friend who has never let her children partake in any Halloween activities b/c of her religious beliefs. But she’s really the only person I know who ever expressed her views as it being controversial. I love your views on letting M experience life basically rather than trying to hide everything from her. Sounds like she already knows the better choices.

  25. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tina Reale, Tina Reale. Tina Reale said: my thoughts on halloween: Have you ever heard of Halloween being a controversial holiday? I never really thought m… http://bit.ly/bBdghL [...]

  26. Emily says:

    I agree that Halloween is a bit controversial for me. I think I have grown to dislike it more and more the older I have gotten in terms of the type of celebrations my age group has (20′s). I hate that women are dressing more and more bare each year and that its more about sex-appeal than about the Halloween spirit. I hate that you go to parties and that people feel so uncomfortable they end up drinking absurd amounts to relax.

    All that being said, my personal favorite things about Halloween are carving pumpkins and giving out the candy to the neighborhood kids. Tonight I had the blessing of going trick-or-treating with my boyfriend’s niece (also a duck) and it really made Halloween so much of a happier event for me. I’m glad you let your daughter enjoy it and know that its just a moderation type thing.

    • Tina says:

      Definitely agree with this! I think its fun to dress up, but don’t care for the thought of women feeling the need to dress as scantily as possible. Sure, if you got it flaunt it and be proud of your body, but you don’t have to follow the costume trends. You can still be beautiful, dress up, and have fun without showing buttcheek.

  27. To be honest, I have never thought of halloween as anything but controversial.

    When I was growing up we went to a church that taught that Halloween in all its forms was bad. Consequently, I never dressed up. And to make sure I wasn’t tempted my parents would keep me home from school on Halloween.

    Now of course my parents have changed their minds. In fact they give out candy for halloween (mind you it is as part of loot bags that include a bible themed colouring book).

    I would allow my kids to participate but I would stay away from the creepy costumes. It’s the over emphasizing of the dark stuff that still makes me terribly uncomfortable.

  28. Cynthia says:

    Great post!

    I know that some people think of Halloween as controversial, but I don’t. It is certainly their choice not to celebrate. I am not religious, but I do still participate in Christmas (as a family holiday).

    I have often thought about what I would do for Halloween in regards to the candy. I also like the trading them for a toy idea. I had so many issues with food and weight growing up that I would not want to raise my kids the same way. I would never forbid candy like some parents do, but I wouldn’t want them to overindulge either. I would like to trust that they would know when to stop. After Halloween, I do like the idea of saving it for later as treats or baking different treats with leftover candy. That would be a fun family activity.

  29. M’s duck costume is SO adorable!!! Can’t wait to see your “costume” hehe. And I definitely indulged in a couple fun-sized Twix ;)

  30. You have SUCH a good attitude! I agree with you 100%.
    I work with a girl that trades the Halloween candy for toys with her son. I think thats such a great idea.

  31. Julia says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head with this post!
    I love the idea of exposing your children to healthy foods and not disallowing them from having certain foods.
    I can’t wait to see your costume, and thanks for being such a great example and inspiration!

  32. i definitely know that hoalloween is controversial, but i just don’t pay attention to it. i don’t really celebrate per se, but we’ll buy candy as a way of outreach for our neighbors and stuff.

    i really love that idea from mama pea though…much healthier!

  33. When my older sister and I were really young we really didn’t do much for Halloween — I remember going trick or treating when I was 6 maybe? 7?

    I remember it being “controversial” when I was growing up because my dad was a lutheran minister — and Oct 31 is Reformation Sunday (the day Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses on the Cathedral door) — was it 95? Something like that. Anyway, the church we belonged to had a “reformation” celebration on Oct 31 where kids could dress up — just not as ghosts or witches or devils. My parents brought us to the party at church (most of our school friends would be there too) and then my dad would take us trick or treating. So, some members of our church got kind of crazy about Halloween but for the most part it was accepted.

    And isn’t every holiday surrounded by candy/treats/food? I think moderation is the way to go and I love how you are handling food/treats with M — deprivation is no way to live.

  34. I have to be honest, growing up, we celebrated Halloween to the fullest every year. I am sad that nowadays people are trying to change it and make it something completely different. My neighborhood did a celebration on Saturday and we were out of town, so my boys missed out on trick or treating here. So, yesterday we tried it out at the mall and that was just lame. Oh well, after the mall thing, the boys got a blizzard and we called it a day. I am sad that the tradition of Halloween is just really not what it used to be (or maybe in my mind it was just so much better when I was a kid).

  35. Lee says:

    You have a great approach to the whole candy thing. I always worry about what my future children, should I have any, are going to eat. It’s just such a fine line. I wasn’t allowed to have much junk as a kid and I always overate it at friend’s houses. But at the same time, I don’t want to feed my future kids junk either.

    • Tina says:

      I basically just don’t buy it for our house (except that candy corn…which I’m so over since a week or so ago). I do always allow her to have it when we are out at parties or other places where it’s readily available. Or when we get dessert out together on the weekend, we share with her. That kind of thing. I think it gives a great balance.

  36. I’ve read several articles/books where the author discusses how that maybe adults need to get “back to their roots” and think like children when it comes to eating. Because they’ve yet to really “learn” the American lifestyle of super-sizing everything. They’re just going off what they know- which would be if they’re hungry or not.

  37. Who WOULDN’T love that duck costume. Too stinkin cute! And…I grew up in a house that I absolutely was not allowed to have junk food ever. With the complete irony that my father worked for a candy company. I still VIVIDLY remember my first soda at a friend’s house. In 3rd grade. It was a Sprite. I think I’m lucky I never really went overboard in the other direction, but not surprisingly, neither my brother or I really like sweets to this day. (Though, we definitely trick-or-treated. The candy intake was just rationed afterward.)

  38. Makenzie is the cutest little duck! You’ve obviously instilled healthy eating habits, so I think you have a really great outlook and balance when it comes to the Halloween candy. I’m not that big into Halloween, but I think it’s fun for the kids… and I adore seeing Little H all dressed up :)
    I, too, love Mama Pea’s idea!

  39. I have heard of Halloween being controversial, but I like your perspective on it. There are some things about Halloween I can live without (um, middle-aged men trick or treating with their kids? Yes, that happened) but there are also other parts that I really like – the scary movies and the dressing up.

    • Tina says:

      I can understand him going WITH kids…but he actually had a bag/pumpkin to trick or treat too? Asking for candy? That’s a bit odd. LOL

      • Yes – I thought so too. This happened twice last night – both were dressed up – one guy just held out his hand! The one with a bag – I was waiting for him to explain that he had a kid sick at home or something but he didn’t explain! Weird. I am a sucker because I gave them both candy.

  40. Harmony says:

    I have to say Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year, probably because it kicks of the Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it’s around this time that it FINALLY feels like fall where we live. Although I’ve often wondered about my kids and the holiday’s roots, however, I feel the way you do, my kids have fun, we don’t focus on the occult part of the holiday. And I honestly have to say I never thought of it like you said, plenty of people celebrate Christmas but don’t believe in Jesus. Never thought of it that way!! Love your posts, and that has got to be the cutest duck I’ve ever seen!

  41. Nichole says:

    CUTE little duck. I’m with ya on the Halloween issue. I asked someone this morning how their Halloween weekend was and they snapped back and said, “We don’t celebrate Halloween.” Eesh. I mean I get it, but chillax.

    We don’t have kids, didn’t dress up, but we passed out candy and enjoyed seeing everyone dressed up.

  42. You’re really a great mother in trying to be as aware as possible and trying to be really conscious of the decisions you make for your daughter. Life needs balance! Society needs more mothers like you :)

  43. [...] I could sum it up in two words – fun! And exhausting. That would not make much of a blog post though, so I will add a little more detail. After church and relaxing some in the afternoon, my parents arrived to hang out with us. They wanted to see little M all dressed up and have dinner together. Plus, they would be our candy passer outers while we were out with M (to the total SEVEN kids we had show up – lots of leftovers to handle). [...]

  44. Melie says:

    This is such a healthy attitude. And it seems to work if she likes all kinds of food and has a variety in her food.
    PS: Have I recently told you your daughter is adorable? :-)

  45. Lindsey says:

    I love the duck costume on M! SOOOO CUTE!!! :)

  46. As discussed on email, I am 100% on board with your approach and feel the same.

    A little bit of candy is fine. It’s the rigid and puritanical “no way” total abstinence from any candy that is only gonna backfire I feel for those that are that way. I enjoyed candy as a kid and as an adult, too. All in moderation and that’s the example we’re trying to set :)

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