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.