It's Halloween, and I am under attack by all the scary, beautiful, and definitely interesting creatures gracing my front porch. It is only I and my trusty Boston Terrier, Peanut, serving up candy delights to the swarms of children heading up and down our street.
It takes me back to when I was a child, and my parents and parents of our neighbors and friends would take a group of us out when we were small, traveling together in a pack, and scoring big! The porches we stepped onto were familiar porches, the folks answering the door and handing out candy and apples were also. We did not worry about straight pins or needles in our treats. Never was there a care of dangerous substances either. No, we had absolute trust in our neighbors, and so did our parents.
We also, in our tight and sweet community, did not worry about traffic. People were not always out and about in the evenings as they are now. And it seemed like they had the added sense to know that kids and pets lived on the streets of our neighborhood. Some of us lived on Shannon Ave, and others lived on May and Marietta. Then there were kids we knew on South Shannon Ave. It was a super nice neighborhood filled with super nice people. No, we never knew a worry or a care. Only excitement for Trick or Treating!
Things are different now. I could go back to that same neighborhood, and while I would recognize the houses, some of the trees, and all the streets, I think it's a fair bet to say I would not know a single person. If I had a child who wanted to go Trick or Treating, I would not feel safe allowing them to step on those porches. I would have to inspect any candy, and I would worry frightfully that they would dart away from me into traffic. Yes, it's quite different now.
Of course, I certainly could be wrong about the new people living in the old houses. But still, they are an unknown. There is definitely great benefit to belong to a neighborhood where every house is a safe house, every person is known, and where it is a certainty you will return home safe and sound at the end of the evening.
I watch the kids and the parents in my 'grown up' neighborhood, and I am impressed that they are all polite, the kids are well behaved and remember their manners, and the parents stay close by, and then wave and call out 'Thank you!' as they collect their children to move on to the next house. I am counting my blessings that the neighborhood I live in now is like the one from my childhood in many ways.
While we do not believe in Halloween as a holiday, as its beginnings are not the things we believe in as Christians, we do enjoy these kids, and their parents, and give thanks that we are able to step out on our porch and welcome them there to stand with us and spend a bit of time with us. It is a form of hospitality, which can be a rare commodity to find these days!
"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)