What is Community?

Halloween is one of those holidays which makes me all weepy. That's right. I get emotional. Maybe it's because I remember the days when I was a kid going out trick or treating. Oh, the excitement! Later, a new layer of Halloween was added-the slasher flick. Ah, Jason and his poor grieving mother. Oh, you bad teenagers who are having promiscuous sex. Don't you know what happens to teens who do the dirty deed? I'm sorry, but you will not be alive when the credits roll at the end of the movie. Shame on you for acting like that at Camp Crystal Lake.

Or there was Jamie Lee Curtis and good old Michael Myers. Oooo, what a scary mask! I knew Jamie was going to make it to the end because she's babysitting. YES! Finally, a little bit of poetic justice for those of us who had no social lives in high school. Okay, okay. So, she still had to run away from Mikey, and all of her close friends were dead, but, hey, SHE made it to Halloween 2. Heck, Jamie Lee even made it to that reunion Halloween movie that came out a few years ago. I never saw it, but, you know, Jamie has a pretty good life. She writes children's books now. (You know, her mom was Janet Leigh who was killed in the shower scene in Psycho.)

Recently, I attempted to watch the first Halloween. I think the scariest part was when Jamie kept seeing glimpses of Mike. First he was there. And then he wasn't. But, honestly, when he dons the sheet and then puts the dead boyfriend's glasses on? LAME! And, I'm sorry, but the whole skewering the man in the kitchen? Not possible. I really don't think he would just hang there like that. He would be too heavy. And, honestly, why go to all the trouble to pose the dead people? If anything, Mike should be locked up for being overly dramatic. GEEEZ!

Errr. What was I talking about? Oh, right. Crying at Halloween. I like this holiday because it's a community event. It's one of the few things any more that is bigger than just the family or the individual. On a certain night of the year-October 31st (unless you live in our town who has some weird compulsion NOT to have trick or treat on Friday through Sunday), little and big kids put on costumes and go canvasing the neighborhoods for candy. We look for porch lights which are on. The on light means the people inside have candy and want us to come and get some of it. How do I know this is what the porch light means? How do they know to turn it on? We know because in our community we've shared this information. Even as a little kid my mom told me the on light means you can trick or treat there. Wow! It's brilliant. Here is evidence that we still pass on our stories from one generaton to the next. And that those stories are bigger than any one family. These are what binds us as a society.

Then there is the Good Samaritan aspect to Halloween. What I mean by this is that a stranger is willing to do a kind deed for someone he or she does not even know. Another reason for the lump in my throat. Here are people who don't know all these kids and yet they are willing to give them treats on this one night out of the year. It saddens me at the number of houses who don't participate because those people are missing out on being the community. Can you think of any other opportunity in which we interact with people, are willing to give a treat to a stranger for nothing more than a "trick or treat"? I love it.

On the night we trick or treated, we got back home early enough so that we, too, could give out candy. Oh, the joy and happiness this brought to my kids as they doled out the sweets. In fact, I can tell you about this little girl who would chase down the trick or treaters if she decided they had not received enough candy by her hand. Alas, their generousity had us scraping the bottom of the candy bowl by 7:45 p.m. Unbeknownst to me, my little monsters raided our kitchen pantry and gave out my nutty bars. MY NUTTY BARS!! You should have heard the blood curdling scream when I picked up the nutty bar box and peered inside at the emptiness. It was truly a memorable night.

And so we close the door on October and greet the month of giving thanks and gorgeous autumn colors.