Why I Have a Teal Pumpkin on My Porch
Do you have a favorite season? I grew up in beautiful upstate New York and I have a deep, deep affection for all things autumnal. Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. I think there is something quite beautiful about neighborhoods coming together and doing something special for the collective excitement of the children who live there. All too often, in this day and age, we don’t know our neighbors well. We may wave when we see them, or chat for a minute when we roll our trash cans to the road, but it’s not like when I was a child and the all the neighborhood kids went to school together and knew each other by name.
For me, Halloween is the one night when everyone gets together, opens their doors to each other and spends some time being a community. Plus, I’m just a sucker for glowing jack-o-lanterns, little kids in costumes and inflatable characters on the front lawn.
For my son, Halloween has an added wrinkle. He has a food allergy and cannot always eat the candy he is given by our very kind and generous neighbors. To combat his allergy, we do a candy exchange when he gets home, swapping out any unsafe items he has collected with ones from our stash of safe candy. This is the only reality he has ever known and over time he has grown to understand why he is different. However, it still can make him sad at times to not be able to participate as everyone else does. All kids want to feel like they fit in. Adults tend to want that, too.
This is why I am such a supporter of the Teal Pumpkin Project. If you haven’t heard about it, here is a little snippet from the Food Allergy Research and Education website. FARE is an amazing resource for people who want to learn more about dealing with food allergies.
Every child should be able to experience the joy and tradition of trick-or-treating on Halloween. But kids with food allergies are often left out of the fun since most candy is off limits.
FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project helps make sure all children will come home on Halloween night with something they can enjoy. It just takes one simple act: offering non-food treats, such as glow sticks or small toys, as an alternative to candy.
To spread the word that you are offering non-food treats, you put a teal pumpkin on your porch and that way parents can feel safe to send their children to your door. FARE has a fantastic resource for printables you can use. I’ve seen teal colored pumpkins at Michael’s, and there is also a paint kit you can purchase to paint your pumpkin after you are done carving it. This is our plan – because the only thing more fun than carving your pumpkin is getting to paint it afterward.
So, as you are shopping for your trick-or-treaters this year, please take a moment to consider having some alternative items available for those with sensitivities and allergies. Researchers estimate 15 million people have food allergies and one in thirteen children are affected. That’s a lot of little ghouls and ghosts.
From this mom, who has had to wipe away tears many times before because whatever the other children were eating was not safe, I thank you in advance for helping keep my son, and all the other children who struggle with food allergies, safe this Halloween.