Halloween. Christmas. Valentine’s Day. Easter. Candy, candy, and more candy. Each holiday it seems I wage yet another snack war.
Every Halloween I refuse to buy candy. Not because I am the Grinch (well, maybe a little at Christmas) but because we generally only get one or two trick or treaters at our house, and then we are left with a huge bowl of candy. I’ve suggested to my dear husband we get pencils or pretzels to give out, but he insists we give out candy. I guess he doesn’t want to be known as “the guy who gave out pencils instead of candy.” I could care less. My children come home with enough candy that when doled out one or two pieces daily it lasts for 2 or 3 months, and that is after I have them separate their candy into piles of LIKE and DON’T LIKE. The latter goes out into the dorm lounge for the high school boys to eat. Then I usually sneak in and steal some of my favorites as well as throw some away or put more in the dorm. I have no problem with Halloween. It wouldn’t be the same if every house gave healthy stuff like pretzels and pencils, but I don’t judge the neighbor who does. In fact if any of my neighbors do, I applaud them! I want to be that person. I am already the “crazy snack lady” on my kids’ recreation sports fields. I would love to be the “lady who gave out pencils on Halloween!”
Christmas isn’t too bad. At our house Santa does not put any candy in my children’s stockings. Maybe a pack of gum and some mints. Funny thing is Santa does give my husband and I a little treat, yet our kids don’t even notice! This year my kids received HUGE (almost head sized) lollipops as a gift. Were they impressed? Of course! Did they ever eat them? No. Honestly I think they forgot about them, and I finally threw them out just the other day. However, if you celebrate Christmas at multiple houses the treats add up. What if you are visiting your parents, your in laws, your step dad, brothers/sisters, and so on? Ugh! I don’t even want to think about it! I even dread any holiday gatherings, whether it be for adults or children, because of the food options. Being a vegetarian is difficult enough when not eating at home, but between just the appetizers and desserts, there seems to be limited healthier options.
When did Valentine’s Day become the next Halloween? Instead of making cute Valentine’s Day cards for friends and classmates, or even just buying simple Valentines, most marketers had to go and add candy to the cards. My kids, like most, are super excited for the candy, but honestly they are more impressed when they get a hand made card with a sweet note. This year my children opted not to give out Valentine’s Day cards because after hand making 3 of them, my 8 year old daughter commented, “This is too time consuming.” I could have given them the easy out and bought the cheap Valentine’s Day cards at Target, but I prefer them to put more sentiment behind them. The other reason is that the cards usually just end up in the garbage and eventually the landfill, which is exactly what happened this year with the cards my kids brought home. Most of the cards got thrown out, while they hoarded a huge pile of candy!
Easter is another holiday my husband don’t see eye to eye on when it comes to filling the eggs the Easter Bunny hides for the morning egg hunt. I go with coins. He goes with candy. Well, at least we cut it in half. Their Easter baskets are not filled with candy. A few chocolate eggs. A plastic egg filled with jelly beans. I can’t even remember if I bother with a chocolate bunny or not. I focus more on the quality stuff (and not cheap dollar store crap that breaks and ends up in the garbage) my children can use or do later. A jump rope. A book. Markers.
I have absolutely no issue with children having candy here and there. The problem is that during these holidays children are not just receiving a little candy from home, but from classmates, extended family, neighbors, and friends as well. I know they all have good intentions and are thinking, “what harm is a few pieces of candy?” But all this candy adds up and it ends up being like Halloween. I know we all care about our children, students, grandchildren, friends’ and neighbor’s kids, but we need to be more mindful of what sort of nutrition children need, and not what they want or what is going to make us feel good (i.e. we made the child happy). Children are going to like/love us regardless of the food we feed them. The healthier we make them, the happier they’ll be.