KGH makes scary decision

I’ve written every year about Halloween, what with it being a day that involves some unique foods, and a celebration – right up my alley.

All of it has been done in the spirit of fun, as Halloween is meant to be interpreted in our part of the world. It’s a day especially for kids, and the kid in all of us, to enjoy an adventure and be outgoing.

Even the most introverted person can put on a costume and step outside their regular persona on Halloween. You don’t have to eat any candy – that’s just an excuse to get you out the door.

When I was a kid, we were certainly keen to collect “the loot”, as we used to call it. Certain houses were known to give out our favourite chocolate bars, or maybe Tootsie Rolls or some other trendy snack of the day.

I am old enough to remember the days when people sometimes made treats, and just put their names and phone numbers on the wrapping.

Just as much of the evening was spent however, with friends and neighbours saying, “Hold on a sec, I have to get (someone) to see this – you look SO cute!” (or scary, or whatever adjective fit the costume).

There was a sense of community to Halloween, a sense of inclusiveness. All the kids went out together, big and small, and all the houses we visited were pleased to see us.

Even neighbours who didn’t have children would have the porch light on, and a pumpkin at the door to greet us.

Now that kids don’t go out door–to-door much any more, it’s a bit trickier to continue that feeling.

We came up with something in Girl Guides that seemed to fit the bill nicely, though.

Every year our group of girls has organized a visit to the hospital around Halloween; we call it reverse trick-or-treating.

The idea is that the girls give out the candy instead of taking it, and more importantly, they participate in a bit of community service by spreading good cheer to those less fortunate.

We visited the pediatrics ward and the geriatrics ward, always stopping at the nurse’s station to make sure it was OK and confirm which rooms we were allowed to visit.

The treats usually went more to the staff than patients as most of them had dietary restrictions, but that was fine.

The girls were pleased to show off their costumes, and were thrilled that everyone thought they looked great, just as people used to be when I came to their front doors.

Well, this year when I phoned to confirm our visit, I was passed around like a Halloween apple as usual, from Admitting to Volunteers to Administration (bureaucracy seems to have a hard time knowing what to do with good old-fashioned cheer).

I explained that we’d never had any challenges, it was just that we wanted to be sure the units knew we were coming; we would check in at the desks first before visiting rooms.

I was told I’d get a call back, as I had before. Imagine my surprise when the call was to inform me that we could not come, as they thought our visit would be “inappropriate”, and that they “could not see the benefit of the visit.”

I explained that it was community service, and giving candy was not a necessary part of the act really — to no avail.

I was told that perhaps a senior centre might be a better place for us to try (but the geriatrics on the ward would apparently suffer from “too much stimulation” if we went to the hospital).

I wish that the folks at Kelowna General Hospital could have stepped out of their regular personas for a while – just long enough to realize that curtailing our almost decade-old tradition of visiting the hospital with our Girl Guide unit was a bit of overkill.

Especially when working with the younger girls, this kind of activity has a huge impact – our Sparks at ages five and six years old are downright chuffed when they know they have made someone else happy.

(Aside: “chuffed” is a British term that is like being thrilled, but I think with even more enthusiasm)

Conversely, they are practically inconsolable when they find out they are not allowed to share their good cheer.

We are madly working to find another facility that can fit us in to their schedule so we can show off our costumes and share our community spirit.

Thanks to Facebook friends, I’ve had many recommendations. I’ve also had comments from nurse friends at how disappointing it is the hospital doesn’t see any value to this kind of activity, and I’ve been urged to contact the hospital by relatives who’ve been there as patients saying they could have used a little cheer.

It’s unfortunate that negative actions seem to produce more results, but it is statistically true, so that’s why I’m writing this column. I would like there to be a positive lasting effect, however – one of perseverance.

We won’t give up going out with the girls to visit the community. I won’t give up believing that sharing good cheer has a benefit.

One bad apple might spoil a lot of other apples, but it only spoils the whole barrel if you don’t pay attention.

Happy Trick or Treating!

(If you’d like a recipe this week to get any bad taste out of your mouth, how about Pineapple Upside Down Cake?

You can make scary faces with the pineapple pieces if you want.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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