I can’t wait for Halloween this year! Costumes for the boys, check. Mom and Dad coordinated costumes, check. Candy to give out, check.
Here’s one of the most exciting parts for me: for the first Halloween in six years, we have neighbors. So often I have preached about neighbors, biblical challenges to be neighborly and love one’s neighbor, and I have not had to “practice what I preached.” Sort of.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved living in a parsonage and have always had a wide view of neighbor that included not only actual neighbors, but also church members, community members, friends, staff of local businesses and (most recently) residents of a close-by assisted living facility.
So in a broad sense, I did have neighbors. But in a more traditional sense, this year is the first year my kids and I will ring the doorbells next door and across the street and down the block. And those doorbells will actually be on a street we live on instead of a friend’s street in a neighborhood we don’t know.
The whole family is excited, frankly. The boys have neighborhood buddies they’ve met on the bus. My husband and I are getting to know the families across the street. We’ve even met a family at the gym who lives two streets over. (Every time I see the dad there, even though I do know his name, I call out, “Hey, neighbor!” It just doesn’t get old.)
And what better day to “practice” being neighborly than Halloween? I saw it on an old high school friend’s FB page one time and her thoughts rang so true: Halloween is one of the only times of the year when we actually open our doors to strangers, when we get excited to see who’s knocking, and when we welcome those strangers with gifts (treats) and smiles. We are warm, we are inviting, we are happy to greet those strangers– dressed as all manner of outcasts from zombies to vampires to superheroes to Muppets (that’s us this year!)
On Halloween, Darth Vader and Yoda can walk side by side around the neighborhood. When Batman and the Joker see one another on opposite sides of the street, squeals of delight usually ensue. Princesses, kings and queens, fairies, and robots–heck, even angels and devils–find community and camaraderie in the shared goal of filling their bags with treats. Parents and grandparents and designated grown-ups of all types nod knowingly and smile at one another. It’s magical. There’s not another day of the year quite like it. And here’s the awesome thing– all that diversity, sworn enemies invading the same streets for candy, and I’ve never seen a protester with any kind of a sign saying, “God hates Miss Piggy.” Nope, not one, ever.
My illustration is getting a little heavy-handed, but you get the idea. If only… we could be as warm and welcoming and inclusive (and celebratory) of difference on the other 364 days of the year. Then we might begin to scratch the surface of what it truly means to be a neighbor.