It’s not surprising that Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love the costumes and scary stories and creepy decorations. I love picking out just the right pumpkin at the pumpkin patch (or, this year, the farmer’s market), then carving it into something that will give people chills as they walk to my door. But my favorite part of Halloween? Trick-or-treaters.
Except we never have any.
For most of my own trick-or-treat eligible years, we lived in places with too few neighbors to go door-to-door begging for candy. One or two houses, then no one for miles around. But, oh, those years I did get to go! Dressing up as R2-D2, with my sister as C3PO and our dog as K9-R9. Watching all the kids, like me, pouring onto the streets with their parents as the sky went dark. Laughing as we ran past each other, yelling out tips about which houses had the best candy. The groans of disappointment when someone turned their porch light out.
It was like the whole neighborhood was one extended family.
I don’t have kids myself, and my only niece lives eight hours away, but people tell me that now everyone takes their children to Halloween events at churches or community centers or the like. “It’s safer,” they tell me. “This isn’t the same world we grew up in.”
Maybe they’re right. Maybe I’m just nostalgic for a tradition I loved as a kid and now see fading away. At the same time, I can’t help wondering what it says that we don’t trust the people we live next to anymore. I can’t help thinking that maybe, just maybe, if people did start trick-or-treating in their neighborhoods again, our neighborhoods would be safer. Because we’d get to know each other, learn to look out for each other, and maybe not be so afraid to knock on that door next to ours when we need help.
Then again, maybe I’m wrong. But I can always dream. That’s why next year, even though we’ve never had trick-or-treaters at this house or any other, I’ll buy a big bag of candy, dump it in a bowl and sit by the door, waiting for the bell to ring.