Valentine’s Day is basically just a convenient excuse to eat copious amounts of delicious, free candy, and that’s one of the main reasons why I love it. I’m ecstatic about gigantic Reese’s peanut butter hearts and I love tempting fate by working my way through a box of chocolates without a map to tell me where the gross ones are. It’s one of the most pointless, delicious days of the year and for that reason, it is very sacred to me. When I was a kid, holidays like Valentine’s Day were one of the few times I was guaranteed a reprieve from my parent’s usual emphasis on healthy eating. I got to indulge and unleash my unbridled sugary passions.
That joy is no more for most kids, though, thanks to the proliferation of concerned parents working to ensure Valentine’s Day is a candy-free holiday. Almost every blog post and article I’ve seen this year touts new and ever more elaborate ways to keep your kids candy-free, often involving fancy handmade cards with small trinkets and tokens attached for each kid in your child’s class, which is another trend I don’t understand.
When I was a kid we just gave out plain, store-bought cards. You want a candy-free card? Great! They sell boxes of them with every theme imaginable at Walmart. I’m not sure why Valentine’s cards are suddenly unacceptable without treats or homemade crayons and glow-stick light sabers attached, but I think this whole candy-free movement encouraging parents to spend time and money on crafty greetings and cutesy plastic junk might just be a solution to a problem that doesn’t need to exist.
I’m as concerned about sugar as the next mom, but I’m consistently annoyed by these efforts to take the food fun out of holidays. I understand a classroom ban on treats to protect those with food allergies or to curb the endless stream of birthday cupcakes, but I don’t get the concern over kids having any candy at all, even on designated holidays. One blog post I read said:
Between Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day it sometimes feels like there really is no escaping the sugar!
That seems to be a common theme among these candy-freers. They’re all extremely concerned that we just had sugar at Christmas – almost 2 months ago. I guess it’s a valid concern since everyone knows your body can only handle sugar quarterly without exploding. I mean, what was humanity thinking with these fun holidays spaced out by only 2 months? That’s not nearly enough time to detox!
Perhaps my point of view is skewed by the fact that Valentines cards didn’t include a lot of peripheral junk when I was a child, but I’m inclined to think that isn’t true. My childhood holidays basically existed for candy. I would wake up early on Christmas and Valentine’s Day and I would immediately sink my teeth into whatever sweet treats I found. I’m sure my mom wasn’t thrilled about it, but it was one day and it added to the magical free-for-all of fantastical-ness that was the holidays.
I was a healthy kid and my mom ran a healthy household. A few days a year downing chocolate until I tired myself of it didn’t do any permanent damage. Plus, those days reinforced the message that sweets are reserved for special occasions and taught me to listen to my body to tell me when I’d had enough. By forcing every holiday and celebration to go candy-free, even at home, we’re not teaching kids anything about the way indulgences fit into a healthy life. I’m giving my kid a big candy heart of her very own this year, and if she ends up with a bucket of sweets from other people, we’ll accept them appreciatively and put them away to be doled out in moderation, no bans necessary.
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