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In my house we like to eat stuff like homemade whole wheat bread spread with organic almond butter, soy milk shakes and carob brownies, so Halloween makes me a little nutritionally nervous.
The Halloween sugar rush
All the sugar, artificial sweeteners, dyes, and stabilizers in the mountains of candy strangers hand out to our children not only makes dentists squeamish; it also causes us West-coast, granola-crunching mamas to despair.
Some of my friends ignore the holiday completely, preferring to participate in pagan harvest rituals where food items like squash figure heavily instead of bubblegum and chocolate-covered caramels.
But I'm too tied to memories of my own childhood Octobers. I remember a whole month of planning who I was going to "be" until the perfect Halloween costume was assembled with my mother's help. All that work often went unseen, under a winter coat on the frigid nights that inevitably arrived in Ontario on the 31st. The day after was spent making trades with my sister and listening to the tales of excess from my classmates.
It's a sweet wonderland
I wanted my daughter Emma to have the whole Halloween experience -- deciding which costume to wear, working up the courage to knock on people's doors, discovering which neighbours gave out the best treats and which ones were so mean they kept the porch light turned off to discourage pint-sized monsters, meeting witches on doorsteps and even tasting new and strangely coloured candy. But I didn't want her staggering around for weeks afterwards in a sugar stupor.
My solution? I invented a Halloween Fairy. When the trick or treating is all over, we spread the candy out on the floor and Emma chooses a few goodies she would like to keep and eat.
She leaves the rest in the middle of the kitchen table for the Fairy to take. When she wakes in the morning, the candy is gone and a surprise is sitting in its place.
Unlike the Tooth Fairy who, after all, is trading a loonie for a now useless tooth that, at best, would only languish in the back of a drawer, the Halloween Fairy needs stronger currency to buy all that candy.
So a week before the big night, Emma and I go to a toy store and choose the one special toy that she will ask the Fairy to bring. That way I am certain she is getting a toy she really wants, so she doesn't feel like she got cheated the next day and won't protest against fairies everywhere.
It's the perfect compromise for our family: all the fun, very little of the sugar. Each Halloween night, as we drift off to sleep, Emma is happily anticipating the toy the Fairy will leave behind while I am hoping that the Fairy will overlook a couple of chocolate bars. Yes, even aspiring earth mothers can be recovering chocoholics.Read more: Halloween parties to scream for.