Trick or Treat?
My family was one of those that turned off all the lights and hid in the basement on Halloween, praying no kids would knock on the door. I’ve never been trick-or-treating, although I’ve helped with a few trunk-or-treats at church. I only dressed up twice for a church function as a kid: Once I was Darkwing Duck, and once, I kid you not, I was the full armor of God. For the most part I didn’t care about not going trick or treating and I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. Except for costume day in first grade.
I guess some schools still do it today where kids can wear their Halloween costume to school one day before Halloween. When I was a kid, m class went on a parade to all the other classes and every kid was wearing a costume - except me. Everyone got to show off their costume and tell people about who they were and why they wanted to be that for halloween. And because kids don’t always handle awkward social situations the best, I got asked over and over again what I was dressed as. And when I said I wasn’t dressed as anything I would inevitably be asked why I wasn’t and I would have to got through a little spiel about how my family didn’t really do halloween and blah blah blah. It started to wear on me. I was about to break down and just start crying when a random kid in a class answered for me when the other kids asked who I was.
He said I was dressed just like that guy from Back to the Future.
That was it. The guy said a total of twelve words in my presence. He didn’t even say the words to me. I think he might have given me a thumbs up or an ok sign or something but somehow everything was better after that. I didn’t even know what Back to the Future was but from then on I got to say I was dressed as the guy from it, the questions stopped, and I knew I had a third grader on my side. As I’m typing this out, I completely realize how ridiculous this is. I was planning on writing something different about Halloween. But even 25+ years later, I can’t talk about Halloween without thinking about what a complete stranger did for me when I was six.
It's OK to not be OK
We are about to head into the biggest holiday season of the year. We have Halloween next week, Thanksgiving next month, and Christmas is just around the corner (just walk through Walmart and try to ignore all the Christmas merchandise already out). While for a lot of us this is the most wonderful time of the year, there are people who can’t wait for this time of year to be over. The holidays will remind them of people they’ve lost, remind them that spouses or parents are overseas, or make people wonder how everyone else is so happy while they feel so miserable (SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, is a real thing that affects over 3 million Americans each year).
This is why the youth are going to go reverse trick-or-treating (going around neighborhoods handing candy out instead of asking for candy). It’s why Boo at the Zoo matters, why we encourage people to serve at Richard’s Memorial for Thanksgiving, and why we’re doing something new this year known as "the Longest Night" in December. None of these are extravagant things. But in the simplicity of them, we acknowledge that for some people the holidays are rough. That not everyone feels perpetual hope, and that we are willing to meet people where they are. So as we do these organized things as a church to reach our community, be on the look out for simple ways that you can personally make a connection with someone. Maybe it’s just an encouraging word, or a hug, or bringing someone a cup of coffee. The little things, even things as little as twelve words and a thumbs up, can make a huge, lasting, impact on someone.