Want to know how to make Halloween a treat?
Be a good neighbor and mind your own business. That sounds, at first, like an oxymoron, but it’s really not that hard.
Halloween can be one of the most divisive holidays. People have more opinions about the right way to celebrate than there are types of candy and they share these opinions more loudly than a gaggle of miniature ghosts hopped up on sugar and out past their bedtime.
To honor the Great Pumpkin and keep the holiday sincere, here is a handy guide for how to be a good neighbor and when to mind your business.
Be a good neighbor: Make sure candy is wrapped and store bought. Bonus points for having a non-food option and joining the Teal Pumpkin Project. Extra bonus points for a small dish with change for kids who are collecting for charities.
Think there is too much worry about what our kids eat these days? That candy rots their teeth? That allergies are made up? Mind your own business.
Be a good neighbor: A scary hand waiting inside a bowl to grab the tot as the tot grabs the treat? Not a nice trick. Same goes for the scarecrow reclining in the rocking chair who comes to life as the trick or treaters hold out their bags for goodies.Haunted houses are fun and so are scary surprises — if age appropriate and consented to. Consider a sign on the door for the parents. Consider the age of the child.
Think parents shelter their kids too much these days? Think kids need to toughen up? Mind your own business.
Be a good neighbor: Give a treat to any child who comes to your door and asks for one. If not getting a “please” or “thank you” rankles you, model appropriate behavior yourself and politely ask for one. Worried about “grabby hands” taking handfuls from your outstretched bowls? Hand each child the treat or put it in their bag.
What about “those” kids who don’t live in your neighborhood? Or the ones who “don’t even bother” to dress up? Or who are too old to be out trick or treating? Mind your own business.
Be a good neighbor by minding your own business! Whether you think a boy shouldn’t dress as a princess or you think a girl shouldn’t dress as a princess, just say “my what a nice costume!” Is a child in an offensive outfit? Chances are they don’t know and there is nothing they can do about it at that point. If it’s store-bought you can probably find it online pretty quickly and can write a letter to the company. If it’s an adult wearing something offensive, ask about the intent and offer your opinion if there is time, not if they are wrangling three rabid werewolves. Kids or teens in no costume? Don’t assume they are lazy and don’t begrudge them the chocolate. Maybe they didn’t have time. Or money. Mind your own business. If you don’t want to give candy, don’t open your door.
Be a good neighbor by not dressing you or child in an offensive costume.Think people are too sensitive these days? That there’s no such thing as cultural misappropriation? If you are going to dress in a way that would offend the average person, save it for a party where you are surrounded by your like-minded peers. Not invited to one or don’t know anyone who is throwing such an event? That should tell you something.
Sometimes the best way to be a good neighbor is to mind your own business. If you are only out to cause mischief or grief this Halloween, consider staying home. Keep your lights off and watch a scary movie. It will be a treat for everyone.
Jennifer Brick is a freelance writer and former teacher in Durham, North Carolina. She earned her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College. Follow her on Twitter @jenbrickwrites.