When our kids were young (yes, I'm old) I always enjoyed Halloween. I liked hearing them talk about their costumes. I liked picking out costumes. I liked helping them get dressed. I liked how excited they were for Halloween night to finally arrive.

I was also excited for the night to arrive because I loved walking from house to house with them. It was fun to walk up to people's homes and hear them gush over my kids' costumes (even if said costumes weren't always particularly gush-worthy.)

They made my kids feel special, and what parent doesn't love that?

I also liked running into other groups of kids and adults on the streets. Ooh-ing and aah-ing over inventive costumes, exchanging greetings with parents enjoying the night and the camaraderie... all of it was very cool. For an hour or so we it felt like we were part of something bigger than ourselves as we shepherded our kids through a rite of youth - and shepherded each other through a rite of parenthood and community.

Inevitably our kids' desire for candy and attention would conflict with the fatigue and effort of dragging around their unwieldy costumes. It was always fun to see them decide when enough was enough and they were ready to go home. ("Enough" was always sooner than they would have predicted.)

Halloween is for kids, but it's also for parents: getting out, listening to your kids' excited chatter, saying hi to neighbors, exchanging smiles and saying thank you to people you don't know but who are for at least that night neighbors... Halloween is definitely for parents, too.

As long as you actually walk around with your kids.

Maybe it's just a function of living in a cul-de-sac at the top of a hill that is unappealing for children seeking to maximize their candy-per-footstep ratio (apartment and townhouse complexes being much more efficient.) But still: almost every time I opened the door last year there were kids on the doorstep... and parents waiting in the car. I gave the kids candy, watched them walk back to the street in case any turned around for a final wave good night... and watched the kids walk to the next house while their parents followed behind or drove ahead.

And every time I thought, "What are you doing? Why aren't you walking with your kids? You're missing all the chatter. You're missing all the excitement. You're missing all the silliness. You're missing all the memories."

Snarky? Uncharitable? Yes and yes.

And I know there are some people, due to age or infirmity, that aren't capable of walking very far. I get that.

But most were capable of walking; they just chose not to. And by staying isolated and remote in the car they turned a potentially great family bonding time into little more than a candy-gathering expedition.

By staying in the car they missed out on a chance to connect with their community, to say thanks to the (seemingly fewer and fewer people) that continue to give candy, to hear in return they are truly welcome, and to experience moments with their kids that, once gone, can never be recaptured.

Will it kill you to get out of your car and walk with your kids?

No, it won't.

In fact, walking with your kids as they trick-or-treat will do the opposite.

It will make you feel more alive.

Published on: Oct 31, 2016
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