One of the best times of year growing up in my family was Halloween. Cool costumes...happy parties...apple bobbing...hot cider...banjo playing by big bonfires.
But wait. No candy!
You see, my parents didn’t allow us to eat sugar back then.It was a time filled with mixed emotions for me. An exciting jumble of anticipation and superhero dreams. But at the core, times like Halloween also presented complex challenges more scary than the ghosts and goblins of the Day.
On these monumental days of tradition and consumerism, I became increasingly aware that my life was very much different from that of many of my friends.
Occasions like Halloween offered stark contrasts between the way my parents did things with the way some of our neighbors and classmate’s families did them. Don't get me wrong: being different wasn’t the challenge. The challenge was with the little things, like not getting to eat sugar on Halloween, or with costume malfunctions.
My mom was an expert at helping us design funky handmade costumes. They were cool and all, but I must admit I was always a little envious of the other kids who got to wear store-bought masks that looked more real. Take my Spiderman outfit when I was 10. It was a rustic patchwork that included loosely fitting dark blue tights featuring unevenly finger-painted stripes. I wore a black cotton ski mask and a red sweatshirt with embroidered spider-like shapes stitched across the chest. Looking back it worked out ok, but back then I used to imagine having a costume that really looked like the comic book hero. I would dream about the store-bought plastic costumes my friends got to wear.But the costumes were hardly the main thing me and my brothers were envious about. While lots of the other kids from our school were filling up bags with juicy candy, my parents had a different trick-or-treating route planned for us -- one a little more natural to say the least. The houses on my parents' route gave us fresh apples, hot cider, and bags of dried fruit. Instead of chocolate bars, we got carob bars and popcorn sprinkled with honey. Apparently, none of the homes on our journey used sugar in anything!
Let's be real. Even hippy kids want to trick or treat for a little sugar on Halloween.
But all in all, besides the funky costumes and sugarless treats, Halloween was full of good times. And I didn't realize it then, but it was many of those little differences at the time that have made me stronger and healthier today.