I’ve always loved Halloween, mainly because home-made costumes were my “thing” and my love for arts and crafts actually served a useful purpose, and of course, eating candy for a week after was a big bonus. Despite the fact that I have a child that is allergic to dairy, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts with a sensitivity to gluten, there was never a question about celebrating Halloween. This holiday is about so much more than just the treats. I want my child to enjoy all of the magic involved in dressing up in costumes and showing it off to neighbors while trick-or-treating.
This year my son is old enough to go out trick-or-treating for the first time and I’m extremely anxious about it. I know that in most cases, the treats he will get will not be safe for him to consume and I’m still working on a plan to make sure he’s prepared. I’ve been reading many online forums about how other allergy parents handle Halloween, and there are great ideas like bringing safe treats with you while trick-or-treating so that your child can snack if the other kids have started digging into their stash, and swapping unsafe candies at the end of the night. I’m leaning towards trading the unsafe candies for money (around 10 cents a piece) and then taking my son to the dollar store the day after so he can buy something he values like a coloring book or a puzzle.
This year I’ve also decided to add something new to our Halloween traditions. We will be displaying a teal pumpkin on our front steps beside our traditional orange pumpkin. The Teal Pumpkin Project is a campaign by FARE to raise awareness about food allergies. If you display a teal pumpkin (or a poster of a teal pumpkin), it tells people that you are offering non-food treats. I absolutely loved the idea when I first read about it. We will still be distributing candies, but will also have a handful of fun loot bags available for kids with food allergies or anyone that requests non-food treats. The Teal Pumpkin Project is not attempting to redefine Halloween or take away any fun. It is asking people to recognize that food allergies are becoming more common especially amongst children, and has created a fabulous movement to help make Halloween more inclusive for all children. After all, Halloween is not only about food – it’s about children having fun, expressing their creativity and interacting with their neighbors.
Have a safe and happy Halloween!