Charla Huber: Halloween reminds us of a simpler time

Every year when Halloween rolls around, I am reminded of the great community we live in. It’s the only time of year when I walk around and knock on all my neighbours’ doors. The rest of the year, I spend my day-to-day life being quite oblivious to my neighbours.

I don’t know many of my neighbours and would never think to knock on a neighbour’s door and ask for anything. We’ve all heard the saying about borrowing a cup of sugar from a neighbour, but I would never be one to do it. If I needed a cup of sugar, I would be more likely to drive to the store and buy it myself.

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It’s parents like me who count on neighbours to provide the trick-or-treating experience for our children. It’s definitely not something I could do on my own. I am not sure it would have the same effect if I had my daughter knock on my door and ask for candy.

There was a time when camaraderie in neighbourhoods was more common. I remember being a kid in the 1980s and being able to roam the neighbourhood by myself, popping into friends’ houses unannounced. Now it seems that “playdates” are scheduled and planned, and children are driven to destinations.

Halloween is one day a year where we turn back the clock, and our city is transformed into a simpler time. It wasn’t until I had a child and she was old enough to knock on doors and trick-or-treat that I realized how magical Halloween is. When we walk through the streets, each house is a new opportunity and what they are offering is a mystery.

From what I’ve read, trick-or-treating started in the 1920s. It’s remarkable that it’s been a tradition that has stood the test of time. To put things in perspective, around the time trick-or-treating began, Tiddlywinks was a popular game. When I think about how far our society has come in the past 100 years, including our technological advances, new discoveries and all of the new efficiencies that we have put into place, the act of knocking on doors is rudimentary fun.

I almost get emotional each year I take my daughter door-to-door in our neighbourhood. It warms my heart to see all the neighbours that I don’t know go out of their way to make a special night for neighbourhood kids, including my daughter.

At a time when we all live such independent lives, Halloween is one where families are depending on the generosity of others. My daughter gets so excited for Halloween and going trick-or-treating. I am really grateful to everyone who takes the time to bring all the kids in Greater Victoria back to a simpler time.

Each year, it blows my mind at the amount of people who decorate their homes, purchase candy and devote their evening to answering the door throughout the night. Halloween reminds me that my daughter’s life is enriched by the contributions of others. It’s a true demonstration of the old saying: “It takes a village to raise a child.”

I have fond memories of going out dressed in my costume. My brother and I would empty our candy bags and trade each other for our favourite candy bars. I remember finding baked goods in my candy bag that came wrapped in plastic wrap with a name, address and phone number written on a note displayed under the wrapping.

It makes me happy that the tradition continues. The Halloween generosity isn’t just limited to people handing out candy in their homes. Fire departments across our region also open up their doors to trick-or-treaters and offer candy, hotdogs and bonfires. Some even have fireworks and costume contests.

Stores in shopping malls welcome trick-or-treaters and community centres often offer fun activities as well.

No matter how technologically advanced our children become, I think there will always be something so special about the old-fashioned fun that comes at Halloween. Thank you to everyone who took the time to hand out candy to children across Greater Victoria.

Charla Huber works in communications and Indigenous relations for M’akola Group of Societies.

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