I have always had mixed feelings about Halloween. I come from the UK where it was really not a big deal when I was growing up. I don’t recall ever being bought a costume or a cute little basket to carry my candy in. No siree. For me and my brothers and sisters it was sheets stolen from the linen closet and cloaks made of repurposed tablecloths. There were no houses lit by Jack-0-Lanterns (I had no idea what this was prior to my move to the US) or pathways lined with ghosts and ghouls. If you walked up to a neighbor’s house you were lucky if you found a light on and somebody home and willing to open the door. I recall getting whatever they might have handy at that moment, an apple, a hot cross bun, or sometimes a bag of crisps (AKA chips). Rarely did I actually get sweets (AKA candy).
You can imagine my surprise at the spectacle I witnessed my first year living in the US. It was 2002 and I lived in a high-rise apartment building in Long Island City, NY. Apartment 7F had never had so many visitors. Over the course of an evening we greeted princesses and pirates, witches and ghosts, Mickey Mouse and bumblebees, Super Mario Brothers and dinosaurs. An endless parade of snotty kids pushed forward by parents with hands raised to grab their loot. And I smiled and I said “Happy Halloween” and then closed the door and rolled my eyes, a little disturbed and a smidge disgusted.
I had an issue with the physical act of Trick-Or-Treating. I mean, do we really want to live in a society where kids are encouraged to show up at other peoples’ doors, with hands held aloft, begging for candy? And if you don’t cooperate, you might end up with toilet paper all over your garden or eggs smashed on your windows?
Hmm, and then something happened. I had my own kids. And boy, did I change my tune! My daughter’s first year, she was a strawberry; I remember that. And my son’s first year he was a bumblebee; I remember that too. The rest are all a blur to me, but with each year that has passed my bar humbug attitude towards Halloween has withered.
I see families, moms and dads leaving work early to get home to their excited kids, to get dressed up and go about the neighborhood. I see happy faces, not only on the kids skipping around town, but on those handing out the candy, from the young to the old, they enjoy giving this gift of a treat, to friends, to neighbors, and to strangers. I see communities coming together for one evening, setting aside their political or religious differences, leaving their troubles behind, to celebrate together the wonder of childhood and the simple joy that a piece of candy can bring. And in the elderly neighbors that open their doors and smile so sweetly, I see loneliness pushed aside for one beautiful evening.
Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. It is a holiday for families. But Halloween, I have come to love too. Halloween is a holiday for communities. And that is a lovely thing.
For all your costumes and Halloween Treats & Tricks, come to Little Pickles and let’s make our community stronger this year, by making it the most fun and memorable Halloween ever.