This is a post from the seventh edition of my (mostly irregular) Week of Lists where I bring you seven list-type posts, one per day starting on Saturday, October 25th and ending on Halloween, leaping from the darkest corners of your internetz and scaring you into mild confusion. Stay tuned!
For most every other day of the year we stick our kids into little bubbles of protection, preaching a little too much on the stranger-danger angle, and stick them in front of glowing screens to keep them occupied as we shuttle them from one extracurricular activity to the next.
But neighborhoods are not just the places we build our houses, and neighbors are not just the people who we call bylaw enforcement about when they park their cars in front of our houses for a few hours longer than appropriate. On Halloween, neighborhoods bustle with wonder and creepy awesomeness… and if you’re brave enough to trick-or-treat on the local streets rather than hiding from the chaos in a shopping mall, there is a lot to be learned, especially if you are a kid…
1. Someone lives there.
…because it is easy to forget that we live in communities. Yeah, we see the hundreds of other houses scattered around, complain about traffic, tell them to look both ways, and encounter random neighbours in the park. But there is something about going door-to-door, meeting the kindly lady with the yappy dog, or that couple who never opens their blinds, or peeking into the house of that family with seven cars parked in their driveway… something that makes a neighbourhood full of more than just lots of houses, but instead full of people and lives and all of it mashed together.
2. Even when it’s all about the costume, no one really cares what you’re wearing.
…because you’re gonna get candy, either way. It doesn’t matter that your costume is amazing or something you cobbled together using scraps from the recycling bin, you’ll still get candy. It doesn’t matter if your princess dress is layered between warm up pants and a winter jacket, you’ll still get candy. The only one judging is that face looking back in the mirror. Kids will figure out pretty quick that even though their costume is (maybe) not the epic dress-up they imagined, most grownups will still smile, and hand them a mitt-full of candy.
3. Effort (sometimes) equates to a reward…
…because if you’re willing to run a little faster, get up to doors a little quicker, or act a little cuter, you’re gonna fill your bag with treats. Not everything in life works out that way, but on Halloween kicking up the effort a notch or two can be the difference between a good haul and an epic haul.
4. Neighborhoods are still generally cool, welcoming places…
…because after dark there still seems to be a lot of lights on and a lot of pumpkins on doorsteps. We may not live in the most friendly of generations, but on Halloween everyone is expected. Neighbours are mostly neighbours, and people answer the door when you knock, ring or shout out the innocent threat of “trick or treat” at the top of your hoarse and quickly degrading lungs.