Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bucking Tradition

Sometimes it takes something like food allergies to cause us to really look at traditions. Are all of our traditions good ones? Or do we have a few that promote ideas contrary to our personal values?

Along those lines, I've been thinking about Halloween. When it comes down to it, Halloween is such an odd holiday. We let our kids dress up as whatever they want--sometimes depicting really gross or even evil things--and then we send them out to collect candy from our friends in the neighborhood and from strangers as well. The other parts of it are really weird too, like carving jack-o-lanterns, decorating our homes with spiders and witches, etc. And if you start delving into the history behind these traditions--that will give you a real headache!

So I restricted myself to looking at the traditions in which we participate.
1. Jack-o-lanterns: we love to carve pumpkins. In our home, it is a major event. We clear off all the surfaces in the kitchen, get out markers and scoops and safety knives, and everyone gets creative. Jeff and I usually help the kids scrape all the "guts" out of their pumpkins, and I pick out the seeds and roast them while everyone is drawing and cutting their faces, so we have a little treat at the end. Thankfully, Sophie is not allergic to pumpkins or pumpkin seeds, so this is one tradition that is a keeper for us. Bundling creativity, family time, and a healthy snack together is definitely my idea of a productive evening.

2. Booing: this particular tradition is so fun! For anyone who hasn't done it, I would recommend starting it in your neighborhood. Basically, you print off instructions and a little Boo sign from your computer (this is the site we usually use) and put together a little package of treats or toys for a couple of neighbors. Drop them on their doorstep, ring the bell and run. They won't know who dropped them off, but they'll know that someone thought of them, and they now have the responsibility of Booing a couple more neighbors! We love to pick who to Boo, and if we include treats, we always use things with ingredients on them or include a little note about what's in the treat in case of food allergies.

3. Dressing up: I love costumes. I love to research them and create them. I love to take an ordinary little girl (I only have daughters) and some ordinary materials and invent something spectacular. This tradition is also a keeper in my mind. It provides me with a creative outlet, and has given me opportunities over the years to teach my children all kinds of skills, starting with researching and following directions to make their chosen costume, but also leading to many skills specific to the job at hand. Best of all is the sense of satisfaction I see in their eyes when they see our creations.

4. Trick or Treating: for my kids, this is just treating, really, because they would never do something mean because someone didn't pass out treats. This is the one tradition I would do away with if I could. I don't really like them running all over the neighborhood, talking to who knows who, and no one needs that much candy!!! However, if we are going to pass out treats, and receive them, I think a few changes are in order. I've seen my kids bring home spider rings, erasers, pencils, fruit snacks, popcorn, and other healthier options. This year, I am going to join that bandwagon--no more buying candy--I will help my neighborhood kids be a little healthier (and more allergy friendly) this year.

Now, to examine Thanksgiving...

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