So just in case you didn't get enough of my ramblings in my post yesterday, let's revisit my troubles with Halloween. This time, I want to go to the other end of the spectrum. We talked enough about the events that trouble me due to their violence, their intensity, and their overt attempts at scaring people into going to church.
Now we go way over to the most family friendly of the Halloween activities....the Trunk or Treat. Again, this is an event most often sponsored by a church group, but in some cases, other community organizations have promoted such an activity. The focus of the activity, depending on who you listen to, is to "provide a safe family environment for trick or treaters" or to be an "excellent outreach event" for a church.
There is nothing scary about a Trunk or Treat. In fact, many of them even have costume guidelines to make sure that all the kids come dressed as a super hero or a fairy but not Dracula or a ghost. And that seems to be one key part of this...to make a Halloween event that is not frightening.
I've got no problem with that. Little kids often need to avoid things that may seem frightening.
But this isn't really about the costume. I'm convinced, this is about sanitizing an event that seems a bit too non-Christian while segregating the church folks from the rest of their community. I mean, I know some people in the US live in neighborhoods that are just not safe. No one would go out and walk around at night. I get that. But I wonder if those are the places where Trunk or Treats are really taking place? Or does this mostly happen in nice middle and upper-middle class neighborhoods where the kids could safely trick or treat on well-lit sidewalks and among welcoming homes?
I also have no problem with a church or any other organization wanting to host their own activities as a form of building their own community. Certainly many groups have fall festivals, apple picking, trips to corn mazes, etc. Those are all excellent group activities.
But what happens when it becomes a way to exclude participation in their home neighborhood?
Many Trunk or Treaters aren't doing this as an extra fun event for their kids...they are doing as the ONLY event for their kids. They gather in a parking lot, pass out candy just to the kids who are members of their group, and then go home and keep the lights out on Halloween night....turning away all the other children in their community.
Is that really the kind of neighborhood we want? One where, in the guise of making Halloween safe, some of our most concerned parents actually turn away from their neighbors? If we want our sidewalks and neighborhoods to be safe on Halloween, shouldn't those concerned parents be the most visible presence walking about on that evening? Isn't that how we build a community and neighborhood...by participating, by being active, by actually showing up? I'm just not sure how we help encourage a safe Halloween if people keep their kids home on that night and become unwelcoming to other kids.
We are fortunate to live in a large neighborhood with plenty of sidewalks, lots of street lights, and homes that will have their porch lights on. Some folks will just pass out the candy while others will enjoy decorating with jack-o-lanterns, a scarecrow or two, the occasional scary sound effects tape, and even one neighbor who annually erects an entire graveyard in his front yard, complete with friends who dress up and rise from the coffins to greet kids. And yes, they are very kid-friendly with lookouts to alert them so the scary-fun stuff happens with older kids (and the adults who enjoy dropping by!) while the non-scary-fun stuff happens with younger kids.
Our sidewalks will be crowded. People will drive in from surrounding areas where walking is quite as safe. Our porch light will be on. And we have plenty of 3 Musketeers, Pixie Stix, M&M's and Kit Kat bars for everyone. So feel free to drop by. We love seeing everyone in their costumes...as well as those teenagers who drop by at the end of the night looking just a bit embarrassed by still hoping for a Reese's and enjoying a holiday that they don't want to ever outgrow.
We'll keep the light on for you.