Post Halloween Thoughts: Convicted by the Candy Culture

I have wondered, along with others I’m sure, if trick or treating is as special as it used to be. After all, we live in a “culture of candy,” where we’re surrounded by delights of all kinds – for our palates, our eyes and our ears. But this thinking prompted more questions for me. Setting aside the history of actual trick-or-treating, are there some basic things I can learn from the practice? The tenets of trick-or-treating are these: 1) Ask a neighbor for something, 2) Give or Receive something, and 3) Show gratitude for the thing given. (I would argue that the person giving the thing is often as thankful to give as the other person is to receive.)
This giving and receiving reminds me of all the political talk going on these days about “wealth redistribution.” As I understand that concept, a third party takes from one deemed “sufficiently supplied” and gives to another party deemed “insufficiently supplied” and neither party ends up being “sufficiently grateful.” Maybe we need to go back to the tenets of trick-or-treating.
Asking and giving builds bonds. I say this, thinking of some neighbors back in Oregon…back in Oregon where it’s sometimes hard to drum up enthusiasm to get out in the rain to drive to the store for a cup of sugar. It was there that my neighbors initiated a relationship. They asked for something – a cup of sugar (or something). Before long we both became comfortable asking for things – a cup of sugar…a tablespoon of cocoa…maybe even a can of chicken broth. We got to know each other through these acts of asking and giving. We didn’t become best friends, but we became good friends. Our relationship extended beyond the inadequacies we discovered in our respective cupboards. Our children played together. I gave their children piano lessons. We had garage sales together. When we visited Oregon recently, it was those neighbors who invited us to their home. I don’t know if that would have been the case if they had never asked us for something.
Still, I find myself thinking it might be rude to ask someone, especially someone I don’t know well or at all, for something. As if staying cloistered in my comfort zone isn’t rude. But what about being on the other end? Giving might become a drag. I trust myself not to get carried away with the asking, but what about them? What if they start asking for more…a loaf of bread…a pound of beef. A loaf of bread AND a pound beef! Let’s imagine my side of that conversation:
“You need a loaf of bread AND a pound of beef? May I ask if everything is going OK for you? You lost your job? Why don’t you just come over for dinner tonight? We can talk about it.”
It sounds good here in cyberspace, but do I have the courage to act on these thoughts that are convicting me? Maybe when I’m finally tired enough of having someone else do my “giving” for me.

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2 thoughts on “Post Halloween Thoughts: Convicted by the Candy Culture

  1. I was starting to wonder about this analogy at first but I kept reading. Then your last sentence made me feel better about it all… the “wealth redistribution” is not done on a basis of ask-give but rather a demand-take-give. Sigh.

  2. You probably think more deeply than I do about these things, my friend. But yes, my idea is that things might look different in our neighborhoods first (then elsewhere)if we were in the habit of asking and giving on a voluntary basis, rather than having someone else “demand” that we give. Of course, it’s even better when a need is addressed before one even has a chance to ask, but again, I think asking can be a simple starting point for building relationships.

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