From trick to treat

To me Halloween and celiac disease fuse together like two pieces of sticky, hard candy at the bottom of a trick-or-treat bag.

That’s because my daughter, Amanda, was diagnosed with celiac disease about two weeks before Halloween 16 years ago. When October began that year, she was so sick she couldn’t walk. She could barely lift her head let alone care about costumes and candy.

But by the middle of the month we had a diagnosis of celiac disease and a new diet that promised to cure her. Hard as it was for us to believe, by Halloween night, she was toddling around again, dressed up as a polka-dot unicorn and anxious to collect all her loot.

I’m not sure if that experience, when she was only 2-years-old, accounts for it, but you couldn’t find a child anywhere who loved Halloween like Amanda.

Never mind that she couldn’t eat every different kind of candy she collected in the pillow case that became as heavy she was by night’s end. Amanda would spread all the candy out on the floor, organize it by type and pose in the middle for an annual photo. There was the year she was Cinderella and the pouring rain that sent so many kids home early couldn’t deter her. In pictures, her sky blue Cinderella gown, sparkly shoes and up swept hair are soaking wet. But she is smiling widely in front of all that candy.

We never let worry about candy that contained gluten dampen her enthusiasm. From that first year I made sure I bought only gluten-free choices to hand out at our door. I bought bags and bags of the stuff, in part because we had one of those magical neighborhoods where a steady stream of pumpkins, princesses, and pirates filled the sidewalks, then banged on our door throughout the evening. But I also bought enough so that I could trade Amanda one-for-one, everything she couldn’t have for something she could. So she never seemed to feel cheated on that wonderful night.

If you have someone in your house who will become Hannah Montana, a Transformer or maybe even Cinderella, here are a few links to lists of gluten-free candy:

Buy plenty and trade generously.

For Amanda dressing up as long list of characters over the years, including Pebbles, Belle, Geri from the Spice Girls, and Cleopatra, gave Halloween its bewitching power.

For me, the magic came when a very sick little girl was transformed back into a completely healthy child, love of costumes and candy in tact.

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