Saturday, October 16, 2010

Halloween deepens community connections

Halloween is a special holiday. It is not confined to private dining rooms and family gatherings. Halloween gets it participants out of the house or at least motivates them to answer their door and smile at people they may or may not know.

Trick-or-treating is the ultimate event for children on Halloween. It is their time to run around to their neighbors' homes, ring the bell, and get candy. Even if the trick-or-treaters are visiting a neighborhood other than their own, they are still welcomed. Trick-or-treating time transforms residential areas into big open houses. Many people await trick-or-treaters in their decorated driveways. If the night is cold, they build little fires and add to the festive air. Children troop up and down the sidewalks from front door to front door in an uncoordinated costume parade. Laughter and joy titter up and down the streets because nothing makes happy energy like passing out candy to children.

This is my favorite part of Halloween. The parties and the scary movies are great, but seeing so many people open their doors and spread some joy renews my sense of community. People come out and talk to each other. Jokes are shared among strangers. The normally quiet streets where people come and go with the tasks of their every day lives fade for a few hours. It is not very often that people get to be so casually happy together. Most of us are closed away concerned about our own problems, but Halloween allows anyone interested in some frivolous release the chance to connect to a larger reality. For those of us who participate in Halloween, even if it is just the easy act of passing out candy, we can see the good in society behind all of the masks. 

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