Hallloween is approaching and many of us will be interacting with our neighbors, so I’m updating this story from last year to remind us to be compassionate and kind. We can’t assume everyting about everyone, nor can we know what goes on in everyone’s lives. However, we can all do our best to make Halloween night a positive experience for our children and if you don’t celebrate Halloween, that’s okay too. I know this seems like common sense, but apparently last year, one of my neighbors still needed that reminder.
On Halloween night, my brother and I took Rosebud trick-or-treating. My mom and my other brother stayed behind and handed out the candy. We have a ton of trick-or-treaters in the neighborhood, so I usually run out of candy quickly. The first year I lived here, I ran out of candy within minutes of turning on the light. The kids kept coming, so I went to the store to get another bag. Then last year, Halloween celebrations were rescheduled due to a large storm and power outages, but we barely got any trick-or-treaters on that day. Rosebud wasn’t a fan of last year’s costume and basically it was a bust.
This year, Rosebud loved her costume and understood the whole idea of trick-or-treating. Although she was shy, she had a great time.
By the time we got home, there was barely any candy left and my mom wanted to save me a few pieces. She kept going to turn out the light, but the kids kept coming. Rosebud got plenty of candy and my mom was going to start handing that out, but my brother and I agreed that it was hers and that it wasn’t right to be handing it out. I turned out the lights, but I still had some ghost lights hanging in the window. Meanwhile, my brothers went out the back way into the garage to put some things in there. A group of people walked by including this extremely rude woman.
My brothers could hear her from the garage saying something to the effect of, if they’re gonna shut the lights off, they need to not have decorations. She went on about how we needed to hand out candy. Her husband was trying to offer up some explanation as to why our light might be off. He said that maybe we had small children and it was their bed time. He said that maybe we were still out trick-or-treating and not home yet. She continued to voice her opinion very loudly as she continued down the street. The last thing my brother heard her say was that we need to do the right thing.
The ironic thing was that I felt good about how our night went until this happened. I had good interactions with my neighborhoods. Everyone was polite. The kids in the street were well behaved. People were laughing and having a good time. Of course, there always has to be one one rotten apple ruining it for the rest of us. Maybe I should have shut off my decorations along with the porch light, but I was taking photos of Rosebud. Plus, I was still celebrating Halloween. It was getting late and I thought the amount of trick-or-treaters would be slowing down anyway. Maybe I should’ve gotten three bags of candy instead of two. I could’ve spent $40 on candy instead of $20. There’s always a million things I could’ve done differently.
The question is, why? Do we wish we could’ve done things differently because we honestly regret them or is it because of the opinions of others? Would we even care about these insignificant choices that mean nothing in the long run if it weren’t for the judgement from those around us? I wouldn’t have cared, but then I had visions of this woman going on the neighborhood message board and complaining about how there were Halloween decorations, but no candy at my address. It’s a scary thought, but people go on there and complain about specific individuals.
I didn’t feel guilty. I had done the right thing. I had taken my daughter out trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. In turn, I gave candy to the neighborhood kids who came to my door. By the time I shut off my light, Rosebud was tired and the woman’s husband was right, I have a small child who needed to be put to bed. A couple days later, I talked to another neighbor who said she ran out of candy at around the same time. She said that most of the neighbors around her were running out of candy as well. Obviously, I wasn’t alone. If candy wasn’t outrageously expensive, I think most of us would’ve bought more, but that’s a topic for another post.
The next time you are in a situation where you are wondering why on earth someone would do something, give it a second thought before jumping to conclusions. Of course we all are going to make judgements and see things through our own lenses, but there might be a completely reasonable explanation for someone’s actions. My response to that woman would be that instead of telling me to do the right thing, you should take your own advice. Let’s get back to the basics. A little kindness and compassion goes a long way because what you didn’t know is that I already had done the right thing for our neighborhood and at that very moment when you were being rude and judgmental, I was doing the right thing for my daughter.