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we have to keep trick-or-treating, people

A few years ago I wrote that not many kids trick-or-treated on our street because we were a few blocks away from a "destination" of sorts so people headed there to trick or treat.

Well I'm pleased to say that the in the following years, things improved for us. We put some extra decorations outside and had tons more trick-or-treaters which made me very happy because I didn't want my kid to grow up thinking her neighborhood wasn't good enough for trick-or-treating. In fact, we get more every year, and I've noticed some other neighbors putting out more decorations and expecting more trick-or-treaters. It only took a few years to build some momentum.

I'm concerned though because when I talk to other people about this, the world seems to be going the other way. I even talk to families who abandon trick-or-treating entirely with lame excuses like "Well we just don't know our neighbors very well, I don't know whose going to be behind some random door my kid knocks on." Really? How do you expect to get to know your neighbors if you won't even knock on their door on a night where it's culturally acceptable for EVERYONE to knock on any door that's got a porch light turned on?

This might sound crazy but I want my kids to grow up in a world where neighbors knock on each others' doors.

For halloween. For May Day. Christmas Caroling. To share fourth of July fireworks. Or just to get a cup of sugar. Or maybe someone in our house has fallen and can't get up. I don't know, whatever!

There are these "trunk or treat" events in parking lots now that everyone raves about where you dress up your car and kids walk five steps to each piece of candy...

Where neighbors are strangers, these community events substitute family-friendly entertainment for the unwanted risks of what lies behind each door.

And for churches that had disdained Halloween as a pagan ritual, trunk-or-treating has become a safe alternative for parents — and pastors — who wish to keep a watchful eye on children, often encouraged to dress as biblical characters. [ New York Times]

Yes, you can make sure your child doesn't encounter anyone different or unknown, make sure they never walk more than a few feet, get candy without working too hard. The events gained momentum in rural areas where it's true, trick-or-treating isn't practical with only a house or two every mile on the road. But they're spreading into the suburbs where people just want every event to be staged and formal, where little league has rendered pick-up baseball games obsolete and each kid plays on her own giant swingset in a fenced in back yard, never crossing out except under the watchful eye of a supervised playdate.

This has become a thing with me. Yes, I'm opinionated, those who know me know that I have lots of things, but this is a big one that comes up every October.

Here's what Halloween should be. You should take your kid around the neighborhood, and see who's got their porch light on, knock on the doors where you don't know the inhabitants, and if you live very close by, introduce yourself. Say it's a shame that you live right across the street and don't know everyone's name. Then keep walking, a few blocks down where you don't have to learn the names but that's okay, you don't have to know everyone, you're just showing your kid that everyone is part of one big community and adults, in general, trust each other. At least enough to knock on each other's doors.

This is a big deal, I don't want to see trick-or-treating go away. I don't want the term "neighbor" to become synonymous with "stranger". I love halloween. Don't be afraid of it.



( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 8th, 2014 04:20 pm (UTC)
Loud cheers.
Oct. 8th, 2014 04:45 pm (UTC)

I wish we got more kids down at the end of our street. Hopefully we will this year.

I really like that I know many of my neighbors. I've found the Next Door social network to be helpful and I'm also on a neighborhood Facebook group. I know, don't go outside to meet your neighbors, meet them from your computer instead. But at least it's a start and a way of rebuilding those neighborhood connections.
Oct. 8th, 2014 06:38 pm (UTC)
Our neighborhood just started that Next Door thing. Is it good? I haven't had time to look into it.
Oct. 8th, 2014 07:18 pm (UTC)
So far it's been good for local announcements and recommendations.
Oct. 8th, 2014 10:57 pm (UTC)
Whatever it takes! I'll have to check that site out.
Oct. 8th, 2014 06:41 pm (UTC)
Two of our neighbors have keys to our house (and us to theirs) and our kid opened the door to answer for one of them when I was in the shower. We has a little talk about that afterwards - just to make sure she knew not to do that for just anyone, but of course it was ok for the neighbors.

We've made a real point of getting to know our neighbors, and it's been great. There's one guy who's nice but really a hermit so we just wave if we see him but don't talk -- but I know who he is and what he looks like, right? I've never understood why people wouldn't want to know the neighbors. I've always made a point of it even when being in apartments.

Besides if the kids know the neighbors then the get the extra big haul during halloween. ;) Which means more chocolate for me. Mu-hahaha.

Edited at 2014-10-08 06:41 pm (UTC)
Oct. 8th, 2014 08:57 pm (UTC)
One of the best things about my neighbourhood is my neighbours. I don't really spend time with them, but they are around if I need someone to look after their cat, or they need someone to water their plants.
Oct. 9th, 2014 12:32 am (UTC)

My neighborhood isn't even all that special and we still have a lot of trick'or'treaters. Too many really in that even if you only give each kid who comes one candy you will run out of candy in a few hours. Sometimes you'll get 60 kids in an hour. And it is not the rich fancy neighborhood. I can't imagine how much candy they have to buy.
Oct. 10th, 2014 12:51 am (UTC)
Oh my goodness-- Erika looks forward to going door-to-door to trick-or-treat for the entire year. Literally, on November 1st of last year, she was waiting for this day.

Helicopter parenting, of your own and of others, is really getting out of control.
Oct. 13th, 2014 05:11 pm (UTC)
I grew up in an apartment complex, and that was great because there were SO MANY homes RIGHT THERE where I could trick or treat without having to leave the complex... the place was swarming with kids in costumes. And then once we'd finished there, mom would take us around town.

My husband and I have been in our current apartment complex, and the first year we stocked up on a ton of candy, expecting the same thing.

We didn't get a single trick-or-treater. This is our fourth year here, and still have never gotten one. Sad, really.

Edited at 2014-10-13 05:11 pm (UTC)
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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