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Memories of Halloween as a Young Girl With a Peanut Allergy

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My earliest memory of Halloween is probably Halloween of 1997 or ’98. Even at a very young age, my lifelong love of dogs and Disney movies was already in full swing, so naturally my sister Sarah and I had to dress up as Dalmatians for Halloween. I remember wearing little black and white spotted suits and painting our faces. Sarah even wore one black shoe and one white shoe. I might be biased in my assessment, but, objectively speaking, we were adorable.

two girls wearing dalmatian costumes for halloween
Rebecca and her sister Sarah wearing their dalmatian costumes for Halloween.

I also remember getting lots of candy from trick-or-treating, but not being able to eat all of it. At this point in my life, I was old enough to understand why. My parents had already taught me to tell the grownups in my preschool and daycare that “peanuts make me very sick.” So when my parents sorted out a bunch of my Halloween haul as stuff I couldn’t eat, I knew why, but it still made me sad.

My childhood Halloweens were full of candy sorting, label reading, and not wanting to display obvious disappointment. During my trick-or-treating rounds I waited with bated breath every time a door opened to see whether there would be something I could have. I felt my heart sink every time I was presented with a bowl of Butterfingers and Snickers bars, and tried not to reveal my disappointment as I politely said “no, thank you.”

When I got home from trick-or-treating, the annual label-reading extravaganza began. Most kids are told to let their parents check their Halloween candy before they eat any of it, but for most kids and parents, that’s sort of a just-in-case, worst-case-scenario precaution. It’s highly unlikely that someone actually tried to poison your kid’s candy, but better safe than sorry. For my parents and me, however, the danger wasn’t so far-fetched. There was a very real chance that something in my trick-or-treat bag could actually land me in the hospital.

This year, I’m excited for Halloween. I’ve already got my costume planned out (I’m going to be Charlie Brown, and my dog is going to be Snoopy), but what I’m most excited for is handing out trick-or-treat goodies and being able to have something for everybody. I’m planning to give out several kinds of candy, in case a young witch or superhero who comes to my door is allergic to a certain kind of candy. I’m also planning to give out stickers and bouncy balls, so that every kid, including the ones who can’t eat candy, can get something good out of ringing my doorbell on Halloween. Because Halloween should be a fun time for all of us, regardless of what we can and can’t eat.

Originally published: September 29, 2016
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