I am the official Halloween Grinch. Mostly it stems from a hatred of all things scary and icky. My theory is that between Iran’s second nuclear facility and OJ Simpson still roaming free there is plenty frightening stuff in the real world stuff. Roman Polanski apologists, anyone? (Off topic but you really have to click thru that link and watch the video. Hilarious!) My point: I don’t need a horror flick to make me pee my pants; I can do that just fine on my own. Although a trampoline helps.
Haunted houses, being the worst combination of scary and icky, are the bane of my existence. I haven’t been in one since I was twelve and was chased by a guy in a Forever 21 S&M bondage suit with a glow-in-the-dark whip. Being still in my pre-Rave days, I kicked him in his magic 8 ball(s), ran out and have never been back since. One of the most ill-advised dates I ever went on involved me hiding under a blanket during the entire hour and a half it took whats-their-names (oops, spoiler alert!) to kill everyone in that stupid house in Scream. (A garage door? Seriously?? Where did these people get that door from because mine would go off its tracks if a mouse jumped on it much less an idiotic cheerleader.) I cried. Needless to say that guy never asked me out again.
Gummy eyeballs, spaghetti brains, slutty costumes, zombies, fright nights, faux front-yard cemeteries and yes, even sparkly vampires: I hate it all. Except for one thing. Twee little children dressed up in costumes going door to door and holding out plastic pumpkins with their dimpled fists. I adore trick-or-treaters. I only have two rules: they can’t be old enough to grow real stubble for their hobo costume and also, they have to have a costume. As long as they meet those two criteria, I will pour sugared confections into their buckets all night long whilst cooing momisms like “Aren’t you just the prettiest little princess EVER?!?”
Lately however I’ve been having a crisis of conscience. With the obesity crisis growing (or at least the media coverage of it) and a child culture that is already inundated with treat-giving occasions, is it in the little Tinkerbells’ and Pirates’ best interests to hand out Pixi Stix, which if you really think about it are just straight sugar packed in a tube so you don’t even have to bother chewing it?
If you’ve been in a grocery store lately you will note that alongside the 5,000 different bags of candy lining the shelves there are a few non-food options. Like really expensive stuffed animals, marginally expensive Play-Doh tubs and cheap pencil erasers. But what kid wants a pencil eraser at Halloween? At least when dentists give out toothbrushes its something that has a real use. Those “erasers” don’t even erase! They just crumble! So every year I’ve just gone with the candy and tried not to wince when my own children came home with bags so full they break and then collapse on their loot an hour later in a candy coma.
This year my friend Beth – uber-resourceful mother of 5 – pointed out another option to me: the Oriental Trading catalog. This paean to cheap plastic wonders that many already know and love for their 6$ coconut bras has a wide selection of candy alternatives that make even my frugal heart sing. My favorites were the glow-in-the-dark and glittery tattoos but they also have neon bouncy balls, rubber snakes and lizards and those nifty finger traps that we always called Chinese handcuffs when I was growing up because we were un-PC like that.
I asked my kids if it was a lame idea and they loved it – so long as I got at least a few gummy eyeballs. So what’s your opinion on dealing sugar crack to kids for a night? Am I making too big a deal out of “just one night so let them be kids already durnnit”? What are you planning on giving out this year?