Thursday, October 31, 2013

On Halloween: Candy To/From Strangers

Tonight is Halloween, and already I have seen several references to the tradition of Trick 'o Treat as giving candy to strangers, getting candy from strangers (dependent upon perspective) or one of many other variants on different social media sites. The phraseology exposes some problems in our current society. Namely that either the tradition has evolved to include strangers, we no longer know our neighbours, or both.

Up until the last decade or two, we knew our neighbours. These were people we interacted with on a daily basis. Our kids all knew each other, and the parents knew each other as well.  We knew the elderly across the street.  When a new family moved in, we would introduce ourselves, even if not right away. On Halloween, the kids would go from door to door seeking treats, not from strangers, but from people they knew. Parents stayed home to meet the neighbourhood kids at their own door to treat them. Even if they weren't sure exactly who was behind the mask, it was the child of on of the neighbours, someone you knew.

At some point, though, we became reclusive. We stopped trusting our neighbours. Not because they became less trustworthy, but because we stopped interacting with them.  We ceased introducing ourselves to the folks who moved in. We became surrounded by a sea so strangers. Suddenly, the kids weren't safe to go out by themselves on Halloween. Not because of any increased danger over yesteryear, but simply because we didn't know. The majority of doors knocked upon were those of strangers, through no fault but our own. Who is the child behind the mask? It could be anyone.

So, not realising what caused the problem in the first place, we began to come up with solutions. The most simple and best solution, getting to know your neighbours and community, was out of the question, why, those people could be anyone, they could even be <insert scary thing here>. So instead we broke the tradition further inventing things like Trunk or Treat, where parents drive their children to a predetermined location and the kids go from car to car collecting treats, always under the watchful eye of the parent.

Or, worse yet, we drive our kids to the so-called good candy neighbourhoods, a feat of which I am guilty myself.  Though, at least in my case, only to neighbourhoods where I well knew at least one resident, and only because the area I currently live in is Halloween Dark, not many children here, so all the houses are dark and without many (if any) treats for any costumed kiddos, though we still visit the few neighbours that do have treats.

How can we fix this? Over the next year, get to know your neighbours. Build community. If you have a garden, give away your surplus (food is a great get-to-know-you). Have cookouts and barbecues. Someone has to start, don't wait for it to be the other guy. Your neighbourhood isn't scary, even on Halloween, unless you don't know your neighbours, and the only way to combat fear is knowledge.

1 comment:

  1. Or next year you could come to my neighborhood - there are always solutions ~ Laura