This year I got to go out trick or treating with Husband and Daughter for the first time in six years. Before we moved and after she was three and only went to half a dozen houses, I stayed home for the even to hand out candy to my current, former, and future students. I always enjoyed seeing them and their parents all dressed up and feeling silly and 100% kid. The first Halloween after the move we just weren’t sure how many kids would come to the house or what the mood in the neighborhood was, so I stayed home once again and handed out candy to the dozen or so kids who came to the door. This year we put the bowl on the porch and decided to throw caution to the wind and make it work.
Being out with the family in this way was a completely foreign experience. I didn’t know that people acted sort of like they do when you see them right around Christmas; everyone had a twinkle in their eyes and a spring in their steps. People say hello and smile. Compliments abound. Everyone is so nice. Suddenly the idea of talking to strangers and taking candy from them made total sense. It all felt wonderful and wondrous. This was something I never noticed as a child because I was, well, childish. I was focused on the chocolate and now I’m an observer of people.
I can honestly say that there have been only a few times in my adult life when I have noticed this phenomenon of everyone sort of being in the same state of joy. A long time ago I wrote about the levelers that are out there- places, times, and experiences that put humans of a certain type all in the same frame of mind. I’m sure I mentioned how my experiences as an adult in Disneyland were times when I noticed the leveling of the humans I was surrounded by. We were all part of the magic together, part of Walt’s living dream. Christmas can feel like that, too. If you ever go for a walk on Christmas Day, you’ll notice everyone says hello. Everyone smiles. People are just glad to be a part of the experience of “it,” whatever “it” is. Halloween can be that way, too.
In enjoying Halloween with my family, I said hello to dozens of strangers. Some even opened their homes to me and offered warm cocoa and a place to rest my feet. I impressed the heck out of a young teenager with my knowledge of Monty Python. I shed more than a few tears seeing Daughter be brave and kind by telling strangers how much she loved their costumes. I laughed with Husband. I remembered all those times I did get to go for those few houses when Daughter was oh so little. I looked back on the year when she was so shy she would barely say trick or treat, and on when she was four and shouted in the middle of our neighborhood, “Happy Halloween to all!” I remembered. I took photos of the night on the camera of my mind. I walked and talked and held hands and smiled and was in the moment because the moment was just so good.
And when we were just about done, Daughter turned down the hill we had just climbed and once again shouted, “Happy Halloween to all!”