Halloween has gotten SO complicated! When I was growing up, it was about home-made costumes, running around the neighborhood with your friends, and, yes, getting candy. Mom took my brother and me around for a bit, we scored some sugar, and then came the REAL FUN: seeing what we'd gotten and trading for our favorites.
We approached these negotiations like leaders of countries discussing world peace.
Since becoming a parent, however, and in maybe the last ten years, Halloween has become MASSIVE. Costumes are upwards of $40 for just ONE day of trick-or-treating, some houses are decked out in macabre displays which (I think) gratify gore, and kids just seem a lot greedier.
Some children arrive at my house like desperate drug addicts, aching to score more of that almighty drug, SUGAR.
(And, no this is not a diatribe on the dangers of sugar. Not from this Snickers-lover!)
A few years ago, I got fed up with my daughter's candy craze. After getting so much candy that I had to carry it, I announced it was time to go home. Her eyes grew wide as her friends gave her sympathetic looks. “But why,” she wailed.
"Because it's time to give back," I replied.
As I guided her back to the house, I explained that it was time for HER to give to other kids. Our block was teaming with children and I wanted to show her that part of the fun of Halloween was seeing how other kids are dressed and the joy on their faces when THEY got candy.
It was only seconds after we got into the house that the doorbell rang. Her pout turned to a smile as she opened the door to a witch, a baseball player and a tiny Hulk. Her generous side exploded as I had to stop her from giving the kids WAAAY too much candy at a time.
At the end of the night, she announced, “Mom, I liked trick-or-treating, but giving out the candy was more fun.” That's my girl.
This year we'll expand on the giving aspect by donating a portion of her candy to Operation Shoebox which sends heat-resistant candy (chocolate melts) to the troops. Sure, the local dentist buys it back and some charities give it out to the homeless, but the latter doesn't make sense to me: why give candy to people who can't afford dental care. Besides, we've talked before about how much the troops sacrifice for us.
This year, we REALLY give back.
Halloween has gotten complicated. Giving has not.
When WE take the frenzy out of the holiday and show children how to embrace their inner generosity, they learn that giving IS a really pleasurable experience.
Maybe almost as pleasurable as sugar!
And as always, thanks for reading!