The Happiness of the Blue Pumpkin

This is an update on our experience with the #tealpumpkinproject.

This past Friday night, after spending the afternoon (yes, I’m a procrastinator and I admit it) making a cape for our Princess’ Elsa costume that we found at the GW Boutique, we got the littles and our college girl and her suitemate all set and ready for a fun evening of trick-or-treating.  The torch has been officially passed–our college girls took the littles trick or treating.  The Fella joined them midway, and I got to stay home.  While Tailurrr Swift and Kitty Purry (they were dressed as cats with microphones) took Elsa and Indiana Jones through the neighborhood for tricks and treats, I sat on the porch with goodies in hand.  Right there next to my teal blue pumpkin.

We’ve spent the past few weeks collecting non-food treats from different places.  The Halloween store at the GW Boutique turned out to be a good resource.  One day I found several tubes of glow bracelets, which I thought would be fun and helpful on a dark fall evening.  I planned on giving each child a bracelet and a treat from my goody bag.

The Halloween treat bag.....

The Halloween treat bag…..

As the children came and went, I fell into a routine.  I let them pick out what color bracelet he or she wanted, I bent it so it would light up, and helped each one put it on.  Then they got to choose something from the treat bag.  What I loved the most about this whole thing was I got to visit with the children, ask each one a question or two.  It wasn’t like it’s been in years past–throw a bag of pretzels or chips in their bag and send them on their way.  I learned their favorite colors, and they told me about their costumes.  Who they were, why they’d chosen that one, that sort of thing.  I really enjoyed the visits.

There was something that circulated through social media before Halloween that touched my heart.  Something about understanding that children who don’t say thank you might not be able to, children who seem disappointed might have an allergy to what you gave them, older children trick or treating–it might be the first time anyone has invited them to go.

I thought about that a lot Friday night.  And because I was reminded it’s a holiday to include all, which is the premise of the #tealpumpkinproject, I was reminded to welcome all.  From the boys who were taller than I am, to the high school girls who came up giggling and cute as they could be, to the little girl whose Mama apologized for her daughter not speaking at all–she does have autism.  And her Mama is a loving woman who is doing a great job with her.  I just wanted to hug them both.

But the best moment of the night came when a young woman, who is a senior in high school, walked up.  I didn’t recognize her at first.  She brought a younger girl with her.  The young girl picked out a pink bracelet and a Halloween pencil (those were more popular than you’d think).  I offered a bracelet to the young woman too, and she said, “Well okay, that could be fun, thanks.”  As we talked I realized she lives around the corner from us.  She said she was bringing her neighbor friend out because the young girl’s sister has Down’s syndrome, and she wasn’t going to be able to go otherwise.  The young woman’s sister with special needs had hung with them for a few houses, but she was worn out.  I offered for her to take something back to her sister, as I explained that I didn’t have any candy because of food allergies.  The young woman looked over at my pumpkin and she said, “Yeah, I know about those pumpkins. I saw something about it.  That is very cool.”  And she threw her hand up for a high-five.

Let me tell you, I gave her one.

And then she told me that she has food allergies too.  That if her sister forgets (as has happened) and eats something with peanut butter in it, and this young woman smells it, she can have a reaction.  Bless her.  She seems to take it in stride, but in that moment–the one where her eyes lit up and she threw her hand up in the air–I knew it meant something to her.  To be included.  To be acknowledged.  Bless her, she may have outgrown trick or treating, but I hope that she and I both will see a world where there are teal blue pumpkins everywhere on Halloween and, more importantly, that folks understand that these allergies are not just in the heads of folks, but something very life or death real.

Bless her.

She was more animated as we talked than I have ever seen her when we’ve chatted as I’ve taken Miss Sophie out for her walkabouts.

I think it had something to do with being seen and heard and validated.

But it might have been the bracelet.

After all, those things are pretty cool.

When I set out to do non-food treats and be a part of the #tealpumpkinproject this year, I did it for my Princess, so she’d feel respected and know she’s not the only one.  I had no idea if there were any other children we’d come across in our area who would benefit or even appreciate not getting candy bars or suckers or Twizzlers or the like.  I said to myself that even if it helped only one to feel included, then it was worth all the time and effort of tracking down the treats.

After the happy Mama of the girl with autism expressed her delight (her daughter had already had enough sugar she said) and seeing the smiling faces of little ones as their bracelets started to glow, the young woman with the nut allergies was icing on the cake.  She has a sweet and giving spirit to take her sister and neighbor friend trick or treating.  I was honored to get to visit with someone so compassionate at such a young age.  She is going places, and her generosity gives me hope for our future.  She was my one–besides my own girl–the one whom I did this for.  And I am thankful for her face lighting up and for that high-five.

All.  Completely.  Worth.  It.

I’m off to bag up what we have left for next year.  That’s the bonus in all of this.  No candy to tempt me, and I have a head start on next year’s treats.  Well, except for those pencils.  I think someone eats those things around here, and I don’t mean the dog.  Yeah, they’ll never last until next year.

Here’s to a holiday that includes everyone!  My heart is full.

Love to all.

 

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My heart has been touched by how many of you have commented and shared the story of including a teal pumpkin in your Halloween festivities.  I cannot fully express in words how much that means to me.  Thank you for including all and loving on folks.  You are my heroes–stepping outside yourselves and what’s easy and always been done to make a difference.  Love.  

 

Why My Pumpkin is Blue

I’ve mentioned it before, but in case you might have missed it–

We are a family with food allergies.

Because if one person has food allergies, you all are affected.

We don’t have anything in the house she cannot have.  We don’t choose things in restaurants that she could not have, and we don’t go places she can’t go.

It’s how we roll.  All for one…..

her sister in college even avoids having things in her dorm room, just in case her sister stops by for a visit.

That’s what love looks like.

Caring enough to give up something for the benefit of another.

At least that is what motivates us around here.  Goodness knows, I don’t read labels until I’m blurry-eyed (have you seen how small some of the print is) and avoid certain places for the fun of it.  I don’t pack her extra snacks for get-togethers or cringe when she’s around folks eating what she’s allergic to because I enjoy it.

I do it because her life depends on it.

Holidays and celebrations are tricky times.  Most of these days/gatherings/celebrations come together around one thing, right?

Food.

Which makes it hard, when one’s choices are extremely limited.  Nothing with the allergens, nothing processed with the allergens, and oh good gravy, please tell me you didn’t forget your epi-pen.  Yeah, we’ve had some days of mad scrambling when that was left behind.

Halloween is one such day.  There’s the fun of dressing up.  The excitement of going out at dusk, all around the neighborhood with friends and family, and knocking on doors, visiting with folks on the sidewalks, and sharing stories and comparing what you got.

Remember what Charlie Brown had to say after each “Trick or Treat”?

Rocks.  He got rocks.

Bless him.

But I tell you what, I’d rather my girl get rocks than some candy that has the potential to threaten her physical health.

So we have two choices–

1) We don’t go trick or treating.

2) We go, but she doesn’t get to eat most or any of it due to presence or possibility of allergens.

Yeah.  Good times.

She’s had her costume picked out for two months and has been doing a countdown for the past week, and we’re still nine days out.  (I know, she told me a little while ago.)  Would you want to be the one to tell her we aren’t going?

We go.

Before our sweet neighborfriends moved, my friend prepared separate treats for my littles of things she’d asked me about beforehand.  Bless her, I miss her for many reasons, and there’s one more.   Usually I buy a special sweet treat for my crew and we “let” the Fella take the rest of it into work with him.  And it’s done for another year.

The other day my girl was talking about the one house a block over that gave her a spider ring last year.  She was thrilled.  So much so that she’s still talking about it.

That sealed the deal for me about something I’d been thinking about doing.

So Aub and I painted a pumpkin teal blue.

I think the teal is a nice addition to our Halloween traditions.

I think the teal is a nice addition to our Halloween traditions.

And it’s sitting on our porch.

I think it looks lovely–she and I are into that color right now.  (It’s not the only thing we’ve painted that color…..) But it is even lovelier to me because of what it stands for.

Inclusion.

All are welcome.

I recently found out through a Food Allergy awareness page on social media about the Teal Pumpkin Project.  For more information about how it began, click here for the story.   A teal pumpkin on one’s porch or a sign with a teal pumpkin on a door or mailbox lets folks trick or treating know that non-food items are available at that house.

Inclusion.

It’s about more than children with food allergies.  This includes children with diabetes and other dietary restrictions.

Everyone.

I’ve read some of the comments.  I don’t know why it is that when something new is introduced, some folks are so threatened, they get real, real ugly.

Suggesting that I keep my child home on Halloween because she can’t eat the candy, or that I’m pampering her and others who have allergies like her by “catering” to her needs.

Oh me.  Just walk away, Tara, just walk away.

Look, if this isn’t your thing, that’s okay.  I won’t think less of you if you give out Reese’s cups and don’t have a teal pumpkin anywhere around your house.  Ten years ago, I had no idea about all of this either. (And with Reese’s you would have been my hero!)  I get it.  Just please understand why this is important to me.

This is about children.  Being children.  Dressing up and having a great, safe, and fun night.

If my offering treats like pencils or stickers or slinkies and other novelties ensures that, then I’m all for it.

My Mama told me more times than I can count when we were growing up, “You better not leave anybody out.”

Yes ma’am.

So my pumpkin is blue.

The idea of the teal pumpkin project is not that folks can’t give out candy too.  It’s just that non-food options are available.

And that is a nice thing to do.

Because spider rings can make someone smile.

Even a year later.

Teal blue pumpkin love to all.

 

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