This Halloween I left my house at 6:30 to pick up my kids from their mom. As I drove through my neighborhood, I saw the first few early bird trick-or-treaters flitting quickly from house to house and it brought a tear to my eye. I didn’t understand exactly why until I got home with the kids and we began our own evening of candy hunting. As I watched the kids running from door to door, crossing the street on a whim, laughing and hollering about which house was next, staying just within the boundaries of what I thought to be a safe distance from me, I realized I had teared up earlier because Halloween is such a trusting holiday.
This may sound like a strange idea, but our Halloween actions truly denote a level of trust in our neighbors that I hope we never lose. We put our children in costumes and canvas neighborhoods, sometimes not even our own, in attempts to take candy from strangers in the strangers’ own territories. On any other day of the year, we’ve lost our minds! But that one night a year it is perfectly fine to throw all the rules out the window and trick-or-treat.
I worry a lot. I worry about things that most other people probably wouldn’t even consider. When I first published my book I got back onto social media, which I had shunned for approximately two years, and I was sick to my stomach with worry that I’d somehow overly complicated my life. My wife is a saint in sinner’s clothing though, and she showed me the ridiculousness of my concerns when she stated, in a whiney sing-song voice, “Oh noooooo….I have a Faaaacebooook!” It really put the situation into perspective. The point I’m making here is that, despite my sometimes crippling worry and anxiety, I felt no concern as we walked in the middle of the street in the dark begging for treats from people we didn’t know. The few cars we saw drove so very slowly as they passed that a kid would’ve had to really try to get hit.
What about the candy?, some might ask. But in all my own trick-or-treating years and the 8 I’ve so far shared with my children, we’ve never suffered any illness other than nausea induced by over-indulgence. We’ve never found a razor blade in a caramel apple or rat poison in a candy bar. In fact, the only behavior approaching inappropriate I’ve witnessed has been on the part of my own children. Last year, the first year we handed out candy after our own trick-or-treating, my four year old son innocently enticed other children to enter our home. He is fast, reached the door before we could, and stood with his arm outstretched into the living room pleading, over and over, “Come in, guys! Come in! We have caaaaaandyyyyy!!!!” This year he and the girls stood at the door, with my wife and I close behind, and at the first hint of the sound of trick-or-treaters they bolted. Most of our visitors this year were met halfway down our driveway and had three children excitedly encouraging them to take candy from three different buckets. Most of the candy they handed out was candy my children themselves had just collected. If an adult were to act in these ways the police would surely soon be summoned. And the treats they offered would’ve lacked candy’s inherent sweetness.
In short, there are some creeps and weirdos out there who ruin Halloween for some, but they are few and far between. And, despite the mild risk, we still dress up every year and go out with trusting hearts to bring joy to our neighbors and ourselves. I especially enjoy the smiles the elderly candy-givers display as they try to decipher my son’s over-excited babbling. Most times he is complimenting them. A few gems from this year: “I like your rocks!”, “We have that ghost!”, (in reference to an inflatable yard decoration) “You should get three ghosts!”, “Thank you for candy, you have nice pants, I like your dog!”. And a less polite offering from my picky seven year old daughter as she held aloft a bag of granola (that was delicious, by the way), and in a horrifically loud voice in close proximity to the house from which she’d received the granola, “That guy gave me food!!???!!”
I bid you adieu…and a don’t.
Adieu…enjoy Halloween for what it is. A display of neighborly trust that we desperately need in these times of danger and uncertainty.
A don’t…be too hard on your daughter if she’s mildly (very) rude. After all, kids have been trained by the very name of the act of trick-or-treating to expect things they consider treats. But adieu…gently advise them not to look a gift ghost in the black cavity that represents a mouth.