Today is Halloween, a holiday which I have always enjoyed, both as a kid and as an adult. It’s funny, even now, as a person living with diabetes, I love it. It’s one food-centric holiday (candy-centric even!) that diabetes has not impacted in a negative way.
As I kid, I loved planning my costume weeks in advance, and figuring out who I was going to go trick-or-treating with and talking endlessly about what we were going to wear. The afternoon of Halloween was always spent in the bathroom, adjusting my costume until it was just right. I remember spending hours in front of the mirror applying cheap drugstore costume make-up. I can’t remember much other than odd-hobo sorts of costumes that for some reason required copious amounts of greasy face paint. I remember having hours of fun just getting ready. And then hours of fun running from house to house filling my pillow case with sugary treats in the dark. And somehow being home by 9:00pm, and still being excited by the time I drifted off to sleep. As I grew into my teens, there may have been a smashed pumpkin or two involved, and less candy, but still tons of fun. And once we could drive, there was the now infamous street party in Isla Vista. Followed by years of dressing up and going to bars. Candy was replaced by alcohol and trick or treating was replaced by dancing. And the hobo costume became a French maid costume, the same one recycled for countless years, in fact (I guess I’m not very creative in the costume department). Throughout these changes as I was growing up, I always had fun. Tons of fun. Every year.
And then I moved out of the country, to places where Halloween was just something seen in American movies, like Arnold Schwarzenegger and beaches in southern California. There was no trick-or-treating. No costumes. And no parties. And I missed all of it. Eventually, after many years, I moved back to the US and back to Halloween. But I came back as an adult with no desire to dress up and go to a bar, and with no kids to dress up and take out trick-or-treating. However, I do now have a front door which opens to a neighborhood full of costumed kids screaming with excitement as they run from house to house collecting sugary treats. I also have diabetes, and I now have an orange plastic pumpkin, just like the one that came down from the attic for a few days every year at my parents’ house. And it’s full of fun-size chocolate bars, just waiting to be given to the lucky trick-or-treaters who choose my front door. I buy the “good” treats (aka the ones your mom always wanted to take when you brought your stash home at the end of the night), and I buy the jumbo bag so I can give two fun-size candy bars to any kids who makes the trek up the 10 steps to my front door. And I get excited every time I hear them coming, all the kids talking at once, as if they’ve already eaten a pound of sugar. To be honest, I don’t recognize most of the costumes (I guess it's not PC to dress as a hobo anymore). So I ask the kids what they are, and they usually scream meaningless words at me. I nod and smile and say nice things, but most importantly, I give them sugary treats. The good kind. So they are happy. And I’m happy.
And you know, now as an adult, and one living with diabetes, I’m no longer tempted by the “good” chocolate bars in the orange plastic pumpkin. I love chocolate. But my definition of the “good” kind has changed completely. The good kind is dark, about 70% cocoa, and comes in large, flat, rather expensive bars that usually originate in some other country. There’s no fluffy nougat or sticky caramel stuff in the center. They are wrapped in foil and heavy paper, not filmy plastic. And this chocolate is meant to be slowly savored in small portions, not scarfed down whole, two or three at a time.
So for me Halloween is still one of my favorite holidays. I enjoy the costumes, I enjoy the ritual of trick-or-treating, and I enjoy giving out the “good” chocolate. But I am not tempted by it. And that feels good.