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  • Halloween in the Neighbourhood


    One of my first halloween neighbourhood memories involved one white bed sheet cut into dozens of long strips. My mother bundled me up in a snowsuit and wrapped me from head to toe in strips. I was an Egyptian mummy. It was awesome. 

While I walked up and down porch steps collecting my candy, my mom followed along and re-tied loose strips as they fell off. We must have been quite the sight. My dad would stay home and try to scare kids by opening the door and spooking them just as the trick-or-treaters were about to touch the doorbell. He kept a tally of the numbers of kids from year to year and would declare at the end of the night that our neighbourhood either had more kids or less than the year before. To my parents, halloween was special because it meant connecting with friends, kids, parents, and neighbours. It was all the fun wrapped into one night. 

There is something special that happens in neighbourhoods that dole out the candy on halloween. It is a time when generosity reigns supreme. We give gifts, share stories, meet up with other families, dump candy and toys, and do so with joy. It’s a micro-picture of how neighbours can live together. Reaching out, having fun, giving good gifts, and celebrating is what neighbourhoods are all about. It’s candy for everyone, regardless of who you are or where you came from. If it’s halloween, you’re allowed to join in.

Grace is a gift we give to each other when we live in a neighbourhood together. It’s the idea that we offer those who live around us extra kindness, goodness, and over-the-top generosity. It’s an abundance of love between a few strangers who no longer see each other as strangers. 

While some see halloween as scary and frightful, I see it differently. I see it as a moment in time when grace abounds. When we set up our home to receive guests, where gifts reveal the care we have for each other, and where kids are made centre stage in a time when busy-ness and other priorities often overshadow them. Halloween, in this sense, is beautiful.

In our neighbourhood we look forward to the best haunted house. Dr. Giggles House of Pain is set up and run by a team neighbours who are passionate about their craft, and it shows. It is well worth visiting. They want to scare, and there are lots of screams, but I see something more happening. Line-ups of adults and teenagers stretch down the street. In the crowd there is, perhaps ironically, more laughter and fun happening around the ‘House of Pain’ than the name would suggest. Standing in line we meet neighbours, kids run up with fist-fulls of candy, and the community donates hundreds of pounds of food to the food bank. The haunted house is a picture of life in our community and behind every mask is a person we know and love. Our city is bursting with amazing people and halloween is just one chance to enjoy the gift they are to us all.

This halloween as you hand out candy and dress up, may you see all the ways that you are loving your neighbourhood. Together may we overcome loneliness, hardship, anger, and fear in our community by creating times of laughter, generosity, fun, and hospitality. Grace abounds when we share life together. There’s room for everyone. Happy Halloween!