Halloween is about candy, but it's also about connecting with your neighbors, spending time in your community, and sharing a cultural experience.
I'm THAT mom — I'll admit it. I'm the gluten-free, organic, non-GMO foodie whose kids actually like kale, and deep down you probably hate me (at least a little bit).
But I'm also the mom who lets her kids eat as much candy as they can shovel into their sticky little mouths every Halloween.
Don't get me wrong — I care about what I feed my family. I care about our health and wellness, and I fully believe that what we eat influences that far more than mainstream medicine is willing to admit. However, I also think that it's important to live the life we have rather than some bizarre ideal. And in my life, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Butterfingers are freaking delicious, and I heartily enjoy plowing through them one night each year. That's called...happiness.
It's possible, of course, to be happy without eating junk food on Halloween. I've even made my own paleo "Butterfinger" bars and they were insanely delicious (and a lot of work). Yet no matter how tasty those homemade treats are, they simply can't compete with the childish excitement of digging through a bucket full of candy for the good stuff. My kids spend far more time sorting and organizing their haul than they do eating it, and it is exactly that joy that I cherish most on Halloween.
Most of the time, I don't enjoy food. In fact, sometimes even the thought of cooking another meal makes me want to throw a tantrum that would put a toddler's to shame. Everything is bad in its own special way, and it gets exhausting to even think about food, much less plan, shop, and prepare it.
We live in the over-information age, and food is no exception. It's not enough to simply eat "healthy" anymore — everything from how our food is produced and manufactured to its genetic makeup comes under constant scrutiny, and it's nearly impossible to suss out what really matters. The food we eat has become a moral and ethical choice, with a heaping serving of shame, too. Paleo? Think about the animals. Vegan? Think about the nutrients. Processed food? Cancer. And so on.
The problem is that all of this soul-sucking information has turned food into more ammunition in the arsenal of judgment lobbed at parents. Wait, did I say "parents"? Obviously, I mean mothers.
The truth is that dads are applauded just for showing up. If dad feeds little Solange a meal of basically anything (much less something he cooked himself), he's a fucking hero. Mom, on the other hand, can serve little Asher a four-course meal and get nothing but a tsk tsk over the GMOs in that cornbread for her efforts. It's a tough crowd all day, every day, in every possible way for moms.
While it's tempting to succumb to that pressure and parent to avoid judgment, it's also not very fun — or even possible. Moms find themselves on the receiving end of societal scorn no matter which decisions they make, and there is no magical way to avoid judgment entirely. What we can avoid, however, is giving a damn.
This is where balance comes in. Real, legitimate balance where, day in and day out, we eat to nourish our bodies (and souls), and on special days like Halloween, we eat whatever the hell we want, with wanton and reckless abandon, and not a single ounce of guilt or shame. Not one.
Halloween is about candy, but it's also about connecting with your neighbors, spending time in your community, and sharing a cultural experience. Trick or treating is childhood in a nutshell, and there's nothing more awesome to a child than being handed a bucket of candy to do with as they please.
Along the way, your kids may find that eating until you puke actually feels awful, and that too much candy isn't very fun. Or maybe they will acknowledge all of that October 31 and forget it by November 1. Either way, it really doesn't matter much. Halloween is one day out of an entire year, and chowing down on a bucket of candy won't give your kids cavities, a sugar addiction, razor blades, ecstasy, or even the "gluten Ebola." It will give them joy and, if you let it, you might find yourself rediscovering just a little bit of your own forgotten food love, too.
Start with the Butterfingers. Trust me.