This is a post about Halloween. The holiday has never been a particular stumbling block for me. However, I understand and respect that it is for some other Christians. If reading about the holiday bothers you or conflicts with your spiritual walk, please skip this post.
“Trick or treat,” said the little boy to the bushes beside my house.
I laughed. So did his father. Clearly his son didn’t grasp the trick-or-treat process yet. “Go talk to the nice lady,” he coached from his place at the bottom of the driveway. “She has candy.”
“Trick or treat,” the little one said again, to me this time. He remembered and held out his bag. I put a good fistful of candy in and he beamed at me. “Thank you,” he said, and ran back to his dad at the bottom of the driveway.
“Did you say thank you?” asked the father.
His son looked at him, bewildered, then started digging in the candy bag. His dad caught his hands and, in the patient-but-weary tone of at least fifty other parents I encountered, said, “What do we say when someone gives us candy?”
“He thanked me!” I called out from my post by the door. The dad beamed, proud and surprised, then ruffled his son’s hair and waved, and off they went.
Would it surprise you to know that I had many other similar encounters? The kids are polite, all of them. My subdivision sees a slew of trick-or-treaters and families from all racial and economic backgrounds, and all the children were unfailingly, adorably polite.
They thanked me for candy.
They said, “Trick or treat, please.”
They wished me a happy Halloween as they wandered off my stoop.
They helped up their siblings, who fell over in top-heavy T-rex costumes.
When I dropped candy putting it into their bag, they picked it up…and offered it back to me.
When I encouraged one of them to get some candy out of the bag himself – I had my hands full – he very delicately pulled out one piece, and I had to stop and encourage him to take a fistful.
I enjoy trick-or-treaters for many reasons. I like that it allows me to engage with local neighbors and families. I like that I can give big fistfuls of candy and smiles, especially to the children who appear not to fit in or whose bags are emptier than the rest. I like that I can compliment kids’ costumes and watch their beleaguered parents beam. I like seeing all the families and watching parents dress up and goof off with their kids.
But I also like that I can encounter so many children and see their smiles and happy faces and encounter this astonishing politeness and realize that yes, God is still working even through the smallest of us, that hope and the possibility of the love and service God envisions for His people rests in little ones right here, still growing, tripping over their Star Wars Storm Trooper boots and getting tangled in capes.
It’s fashionable to moan and sign and shake our heads over kids these days. I hear it all the time. They’re lazy. They’re rude. They’re loud, ungrateful, spoiled. They spend half their time behind a screen even as toddlers. They don’t know how to act in public. And sure, maybe that’s true of some children. I don’t really know. And that isn’t what I saw tonight.
Which is why I wanted to write about it. Tonight, I saw kids who had listened, had learned, who wanted to have a good time, who helped each other. And it made me smile. I imagine it pleases God, too.