The Halloween Fairy: Bringing Balance and Food Allergy Safety to Our Holiday

Photo credit: tinyfroglet / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: tinyfroglet / Foter / CC BY

I have very fond memories of Halloween from my childhood. There was just something so exciting about going around the neighborhood dressed up as a magical character of some sort. I loved seeing all of the other costumed children running through the streets, excited to receive delightful treats at every house. I remember my sister’s utter despair one year when she could not come with us because she had chicken pox on Halloween. I carried a sign and collected candy on her behalf so that she would not be left out of all of the fun (and since she had caught the chicken pox from me, it seemed to be the least that I could do).

My siblings and I would end each Halloween night sorting through our bags of goodies and counting up the pennies that we had collected in our UNICEF boxes. After enjoying a few sweet treats, and participating in some intense candy-trade negotiations, our bags of candy were stored on top of the refrigerator where we could not easily reach them. A piece or two of candy would be dispensed to us each day to enjoy, unless of course we pulled a kitchen chair over to the fridge when our parents weren’t looking. Then it was all “Lord of the Flies” as we stuffed candy into our mouths and pockets. Eventually, the favorites from our bags were all gone (mom and dad may have helped, but I have no official confirmation of this). The less desired candies languished at the bottom of the bag, growing stale. Ultimately they were abandoned and thrown in the trash.

The reality is, a lot of the excitement of Halloween for many children is the sheer kid-anarchy of it all; you wear fantasy clothes outside, approach unknown houses, and come away from the night with as much candy as you can carry. It’s madness, I tell you. The feeling of abundance and wildly increased access to candy are often part of the magic of the holiday. In truth, it’s more than children need to make special Halloween memories. Having a large enough haul to be eating candy bars every day for weeks on end seems like an unnecessarily long, sugar-fueled, holiday celebration.

Like many parents, when I had children I looked forward to sharing experiences with them that would create memories like the fond ones from my childhood. When I had my first baby, Halloween took on a refreshed sense of fun. I loved dressing Eva up for her first Halloween, creating a costume from clothes and objects from around the house like we used to do as kids (she was a basketball player). Candy was unnecessary, and I wouldn’t have fed it to her anyway. For her first few Halloweens, candy and going Trick-or-Treating really played little part in the holiday for us; it was about the pumpkin patch, carving Jack-o-Lanterns, roasting pumpkin seeds, and dressing up. Eva also really enjoyed greeting other children who came to the door, and handing out candy to them. It was like an endless play date of generosity.

Somewhere around Eva’s third Halloween, the idea of going Trick-or-Treating with a friend from the Waldorf school was presented and planned. One day in the parent-child class at school, the adults were doing handwork and chatting about autumn festivities while the children played. The teacher overheard our Halloween discussion and asked us if our homes had ever been visited by the Halloween Fairy. This was a new idea to me, so I was all ears. The teacher went on to explain that the Halloween Fairy provides a service for children who have not been able to go Trick-or-Treating for some reason or other, perhaps because their sister gave them a communicable illness. She visits homes on the night of Halloween, gathering candy that has been left for these children by generous Trick-or-Treaters. In exchange for the candy, she leaves a gift or gifts for the children who shared with her.

I thought that this was brilliant! Eva could participate in Trick-or-Treating, but we would not be negotiating candy distribution and consumption all through winter. The practice would also reinforce the idea of “enough” versus excess, quality over quantity; in addition to the concept of sharing good fortune with others. We talked with Eva about the Halloween Fairy, and left the fairy a note to let her know that we were happy to share with her that year.


sdixclifford / Foter / CC BY

That year and every year since, we have had a new ritual for our post Trick-or-Treating rounds. The kids dump, sort, and marvel over their candy stash. They then select 5-10 pieces of candy to keep and enjoy. The rest of the candy we leave out in the children’s collection buckets for the Halloween Fairy. In the morning, the kids are thrilled to find what has been left for them, and the trading and negotiations among siblings commences, just as it did when I was a kid.

Over the years we have been fortunate enough to have been visited by the Halloween Fairy many times. She even followed us to another state when we had an event on Halloween and our kids were the ones who could not go Trick-or-Treating. There was far less protesting and panic when they remembered that the Halloween Fairy wouldn’t leave them out of the holiday. Other children would collect and share on their behalf, just as they had done in past years. Likewise, if Trick-or-Treating is ever cut short by bad weather, scheduling challenges, tired siblings, or whatnot, there is less pressure to make it to a certain number of houses to get “enough” candy. The kids know that whether they collect ten pieces of candy or one hundred, they will have the same amount of candy to enjoy by the next morning.

The Halloween Fairy respects the choices that we make to generally avoid ingredients like artificial flavors and food dyes. She has always left the children with fun, but healthier candies and snacks. When we discovered that the children had various food allergies and sensitivities, the Halloween Fairy adjusted her gifts to include candies that were safe for our kids and all of their dietary needs. They were beyond thrilled to get special treats that they looked forward to every year (I’m talking to you gluten free, vegan, non-GMO Milky Way bar). Long before The Teal Pumpkin Project and Halloween food allergy awareness was “a thing”, it made receiving Trick-or-Treating candy on Halloween that they could not eat less frustrating. They knew that the Halloween Fairy would bring that candy to another child who could eat it, and they would get allergy-safe candies in exchange.

I have been pleased to see that each year the Halloween Fairy has left the children a combination of sweets and candy alternatives such as small gifts. I’m excited that the children get to experience a part of the magical abundance of the holiday. I like to think however that when moderation is the norm, this occasional abundance is more memorable, and doesn’t require an “anything goes” quality to feel really special. They can relate to peers who are telling captivating stories about their Trick-o-Treating spoils and snacking on their booty, but they are not in an endless sugar coma for the month of November, or ingesting foods that make them feel sick. They also have lasting, useful items that help them remember the fun of Halloween and the magic of the Halloween Fairy long after all of the candy wrappers have been thrown away.

I am excited to announce that I was able to secure an exclusive interview with the Halloween Fairy. She shared her secret resources for the best places to find healthier and food allergy-friendly treats and snacks, as well as ideas for non-edible Halloween treats.

I hope that if the Halloween Fairy sounds like a good match for your family, she will find her way to your home this year. How do you balance abundance with healthy moderation in your home for Halloween?

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