Saturday, November 01, 2008

Trick-or-Treating vs. Community

Yesterday marked my favorite holiday of the whole year: Halloween. I know, a good Christian's favorite holiday should either be Christmas or Easter, what with the significance of each. And I do agree that each of those are far more important, but as far as which holiday gets me the most excited based on the modern-day celebration of each, Halloween wins out. And now that I have kids, it is even more pronounced. I get totally jazzed about the idea of trick-or-treating with them and picking out costumes. This year I was determined that Colin would be Curious George, and on Sunday I was able to find a costume for only $10.00. Major score, and he was majorly cute! And last night to celebrate, we ventured to a local church that held a Tractor Treat, complete with games, prizes, free photos, hay rides, and of course plenty of candy. Colin had a blast, which meant that so did Daddy!

On my way home, I drove past what can be described as a well-to-do neighborhood. If I had to go visit a friend in that neighborhood last night, I would have been out of luck as the streets were completely lined with cars from visiting neighborhoods. I wondered, "What has happened to trick-or-treat?" 

Trick-or-treat used to be an opportunity to get together with all your friends from your neighborhood, compare costumes, and ransack our neighbors for candy. Sure, the goal was always candy and to have the best costume, but there was also a community element to the whole event. We couldn't have verbalized it that way as kids, but there was something fun about going around to all of your neighbors that you see every day and have them make comments about your costume. There was even one old guy that wore a different mask every year. One year, he wore the mask of a young, hot lady and he talked in a high voice. I still remember that now, thirty years later. I was sad when I had heard that he had passed away some years ago because he was a part of the community. He was my neighbor.

Today, trick-or-treat is nothing more than hitting up perfect strangers for candy, oftentimes strangers who live on the complete opposite side of town. You stake out the various neighborhoods to try to determine which one is the nicest. Then once you have determined that, you have to decide if they will be the most generous, and if not, you choose the next most prosperous area, or the next. And if your bag is not so full that you can't carry it anymore, the night has not been successful. And it doesn't matter if you don't have a costume; you can still go. I have had kids come to my door in the past with no costume at all, simply dressed in their normal street clothes, with their bags out expecting candy. The bottom line is, the one with the most candy wins. It's basically begging on really nice streets.

What happened to the community aspect? It doesn't matter if you don't get together with your friends. Who cares if you don't see your neighbors or trick-or-treat in your own neighborhood? What matters is the candy. That's all. Some could argue that I did the exact same thing by taking my son to a local church instead of going around my own neighborhood. That's somewhat fair, but he's also only 2 1/2 years old, and I thought the community that a church might provide might be preferable to a child that age than the normal Halloween environment. Perhaps I violated my own argument, but that would just defend it - that the community element to Halloween is going, if not already, gone. That it doesn't matter if your neighbors ever see you that night, or if you see them. When that crazy old guy in the neighborhood passes away, who will care? Possibly no one in the neighborhood because the community has evaporated. And I would suggest that it is just a reflection in society as a whole. Just my two cents' worth....

1 comment:

DGH said...

Yeah, I intentionally set up Cornhole in my front yard and played with the neighbors. I live on a nicer street in the middle of a poor neighborhood. And we had a blast! The neighbors actually came over after they took the kids around and played some Cornhole and developed relationships. Building the Kingdom one house/person at a time. I think next year I might bring out the grill and just make it a block party. It was awesome, and I'm meeting people that would never step inside a church... Man, I love Halloween...I'm right there with you!