The Frost is on the Pumpkin - ©

Sunday Musings: Hallowe’en Pros And Cons

Hallowe’en 2021 is just a week away. That means we have a whole pile of questions to discuss. Not the least of which is, has the time come to say farewell for good to the old, venerable (and potentially dangerous) custom of Trick-or-Treating? That’s just the beginning…

Maggie's 2015 Jac-O-Lantern - © Maggie J's.caI am food! Repurpose me! Recycle me!

When I was a little kid I was allowed to go out Trick-or-Treating the first time shepherded by my dad. I got a big lecture before setting out: Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t run. Say ‘thank you’. Stay with the group. Don’t eat any candy until you get home, and your dad has looked it over. And stay where I can see you.

A lot of precautions for ‘a night of fun and hijinx’, I thought. But rules is rules. And I couldn’t go unless I agreed to them.

That night, one little kid fell off a front porch up the street and hurt himself. No broken bones, and I suspect he was more scared than damaged. Another kid got separated from his group and was eventually found heading the wrong way up the street on the wrong side, haunting solo. A group of younger kids under the supervision of someone’s older brother (maybe 15 years old) were accosted by a group of even older boys who demanded their swag. The supervisor knew them, though, and threatened to rat them out to their parents. Close call.

And after the haunting was over, I had to wait until Dad inspected all my treats to make sure they hadn’t been tampered with. Back then, we expected to hear the next morning about at least a few razor blades or sewing needles turning up in candy or fruit. That’s just the way it was, back then.

How things have changed!

Thanks to (or due to) the pandemic, we have all had to rethink Hallowe’en. And maybe it’s about time. Hallowe’en 2020 was a no-show in most communities because nobody wanted to risk spreading COVID-19 through multiple close contacts by kids with multiple potential carriers. Ingenious types came up with various inventions designed to maintain social distancing when doling out treats, but they didn’t really catch on.

For the fist time in my memory, not one kid came to my door. I thought that was a good thing, and indicative of admirable thinking on behalf of their parents. But I got stuck with more than 100 single-serving bags of Potato Chips. Fine, in one sense: It gave me ammo for a blog post about how to repurpose leftover Chips! Alas, I can only exploit that topic once.

But will I go out this coming week and buy a truckload of chips for Hallowe’en 2021? Will any kids come? What precautions should I take? Should I even put up any decorations? Carve a Jack-o-Lantern?

A dietary disaster

I think we can all agree that Trick-or-Treating precipitates a temporary dietary disaster for the kids involved. Most parents in recent times have sequestered their kids treats and rationed them out sensibly, so nobody gets sick from over indulging. But, at the same time, we keep hearing how bad excess sugar and salt are for us, and how bad eating habits and afflictions like obesity have their roots in childhood. Folks have always rationalized that ‘it’s only once a year’. But we also know that sugar and salt addiction work via the same neural mechanisms as opiate and nicotine addiction – and what better opportunity to get hooked than Hallowe’en?

Am I harming the economy by not ‘buying in’?

If I don’t buy candy or salty snacks this year, and millions of other families follow suit, am I contributing to an economic disaster in the snacks industry? Hallowe’en is the biggest sales point on their calendar. How many people might lose their jobs? How many smaller companies may go out of business?

What if the pumpkin growers haven’t scaled back their plantings this year? If not, they stand to lose big. Even more waste! Every year, tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of unsold pumpkins are ploughed into the ground, just to get rid of them. What an egregious waste of really good food! Not to mention that most folks don’t recycle their Jack-o-Lanterns into the freezer. One good-sized Jack can provide enough pumpkin purée to fill your pie and soup needs for the next year.

The world didn’t end…

We collectively skipped Hallowe’en, for the most part, last year. And the Sky didn’t fall. The world didn’t end – either with a bang or a whimper. And our biggest problem was leftover treats. Sounds like a win-win to me.

The big question is: Should we just say goodbye to Hallowe’en and consign it’s memory to history?

Muse on that…

~ Maggie J.