Halloween’s Real Scare: Keeping my Son Alive

Halloween used to be my favorite holiday (seriously – even above Christmas). There’s the parties, the costumes – okay, who am I kidding, I love candy.

In fact, when I was younger for an ‘About Me’ project I got a Halloween bucket to put a ton of stuff in – to orchestrate just how much I loved the holiday (Yes, there was candy in the pumpkin pail).

I still remember explaining emphatically, “This is a holiday where you go to strangers’ houses! They give you free candy for no other reason then it’s Halloween!” Halfway in disbelief, halfway sharing my passion for the holiday for candyholics.
After racing through our neighborhoods (I mean, literally racing – running house to house in an effort to get the most candy before the clock strikes midnight and it’s no longer safe to walk up to a stranger’s door and ask them for something) – we would sit at home, dump out our candy buckets and start organizing.
There were Snickers, M&Ms, Almond Joys, Kit Kats, Reese’s Pieces. We put each in long lines – Starburst after Starburst, Crunch bar after Crunch bar. We compared which row was the longest, who got what and most importantly – what you could trade for. This stuff was epic – I mean five kids, comparing lines and lines of candy.
For my son’s first Halloween I was bummed when I realized there was no way I was going to take a 10-month-old out door to door trick-or-treating for him (eh-hem, myself).
But the next Halloween, I was more than bummed. I was on edge. I was terrified – a pit in my stomach all night long. The reason – between his first and second Halloweens (yes, this is how I keep time) – my son had developed a severe peanut allergy.
All of a sudden, I had something a lot more scary to deal with than a haunted house. We’re not dealing with fictional death in zombies here. We are dealing with the real effort to keep my sweet boy alive.
It’s been a long road and a learning experience. When you think nut allergies you can pretty quickly realize Snickers and Almond Joys are off the table. But get this – M&Ms are no longer an option either.
A few months after my son’s diagnosis I had some plain (PLAIN!!) M&Ms at work. When I got home, I kissed my son’s cheek – he broke out in hives. Did I mention those M&Ms were plain?! As I discovered then – cross contamination caused the reaction. That’s because those {freaking} PLAIN M&Ms were produced in the same facility as Peanut M&Ms.
A quick walk down the Halloween candy aisle – what once brought me so much Hallow’s Eve joy – is filled with allergens. Allergens seems like too small a word to spell out – a food that can take my son’s life. A food that can take my son’s life.
That’s where the Teal Pumpkin Project comes in. As I write those three words, a huge weight is lifted off my shoulders. FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) is asking everyone to take part (and I am too!).
It’s simple! All you have to do is have some non-food items to give away. Think party favors – vampire teeth, bouncy balls, pencils, tattoos, stickers, even coloring sheets will do.
Then you paint a teal pumpkin and put it on the porch. That’s the signal you have a safe home for food allergy families.
This is something that impacts not only my son, but 1 in 13 children nationwide. That’s a lot of children missing out on what used to be my favorite holiday.
We hit up the Target Halloween section to find this. By the way, The TEAL PUMPKIN PROJECT and the Teal Pumpkin Image are trademarks of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).”
tealpumpkinproject livefromtheplayroomThese are just a handful of fun ideas with price points. We also found small notebooks, eyeball glasses, stretchy bone hands, glow in the dark bats, pencils, erasers and bouncy balls.
I know all of that can get expensive. So really, even a coloring page will do. Coloring pages don’t give my 3-year-old hives, they don’t make his eyes swell, they won’t potentially close his airways. If you find yourself in a pinch, check out Disney Jr.’s coloring page options here.
I’ve accepted the fact that my favorite tradition will not live on in the lives of my boys. My oldest and his brother will never get to dump huge pillowcases of candy on the living room floor. I know they won’t spend hours laughing as they organize, count and trade their candies. There will be no lines of M&Ms packages. No bartering Snickers for video game time. Two Reese’s Peanut Butter cups won’t be traded for a full size Hershey’s bar.
But I haven’t accepted that my son has to sit out on this holiday. Halloween can still be fun. It’s just that we need your help – the help of strangers who will open their doors to us – not only literally.
In advance, THANK YOU for your support. It brings to me to tears thinking that so many of you will (and have!) done this.
Please SHARE this to spread the word!
Food Allergies on Halloween

11 thoughts on “Halloween’s Real Scare: Keeping my Son Alive

  1. Such a great idea. Even if you’re not thinking about allergies, kids have SO much more access to sugar every day than I did. I’m not sure a holiday designed around loading them down with more is a great idea anymore, but I love Halloween too. Your ideas are a win-win!


  2. I can only imagine how tough that must be..and yes, real life scary! I’m glad the teal pumpkin project is a step in the right direction for families who still want to enjoy the festivities. You have some great tips on alternatives too! Let’s be honest, most of my kid’s candy ends up right in my belly…and I can’t even give the allergy excuse..eek!

    Liked by 1 person

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