What can we learn about Resilience from Trick or Treat night as celebrated in the US? Children dress up in costumes from adorable to scary, homemade to store bought and knock-on neighbors’ doors for free candy. Adults decorate their homes, buy extreme amounts of candy, and sit by the front door or on the porch for two hours on the designated night.
We raise our children to be aware of “stranger danger” then we take them door to door to collect candy from people we barely know.
Children who are afraid of the dark dress up as the things that terrify them.
Teens who argue that they shouldn’t be treated as a child anymore put a helmet on their head, call it a costume, and run door-to-door filling pillowcases with candy.
New parents dress up infants and toddlers in adorable outfits to visit people they don’t know to gather candy their children can’t eat.
Generosity & Creativity
Neighborhoods with lots of houses see trick-or-treaters from outside their neighborhood. Candy is passed out to children we have never laid eyes on before.
Children dress up as the superheroes they wish they could be.
Families or friend groups come in themed costumes. Weeks have been spent planning and preparing outfits. Dogs and babies are included in the theme.
Neighbors decorate their houses to delight for trick or treaters to enjoy, while others provide mini haunted houses.
Possibility of Conflict or Trouble
Cold weather or worse yet, rain challenge costume plans.
Newly divorced families struggle with decisions about who does what with whom when.
People choose costumes that others find offensive or insulting.
Kids dressed all in black cross streets while not paying attention.
Scary costumes freak out little kids. (My son’s first trick or treat he went to three houses, met a skeleton and was done. However, he was thrilled to stay up late to eat the candy he collected.)
Building Community Resilience
Pleasure in generosity. Joy in the ridiculous. Comfort in tradition. Delight in creativity.
One of my joys is to watch neighborhood children change over time. The child who was once a delightful bumblebee turns into a superhero turns into the “cereal killer” and later shows up in a football jersey and helmet. Trick or Treat is a time when neighbors say hi, adults gather in driveways to drink hot cider and children learn that strangers are kind. The tradition connects us across time and neighborhoods.
All of this builds community resilience as we come together with permission to be childlike no matter our age. I appreciate the opportunity to be generous to children known and unknown, to tell parents I have never met before how cute their baby is, and to sit on my porch, in a silly costume eating candy for two hours.
May you enjoy the spirit of Trick or Treat and find resilience in community this fall.
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