Wallingford, it is your moral and civic duty to hand out candy to the children of strangers next week. Parents, if you do not let your children go door to door at your neighbors’ houses collecting goodies, you are surrendering all that is good and dear in America to the fearists.
Yes, the fearists! Like terrorists, fearists undermine our society by sowing distrust and uncertainty everywhere we go. Fearists don’t bomb buildings, but they still chip away at the things that make America great: our adventurous spirit, our independence, our willingness to brave new frontiers despite the risks.
What makes them so insidious is that the fearists don’t even know they’re doing it! They mean well. They think they’re helping. They’re doing as they’ve been taught, as they’ve been told.
And what do they do? They tell us that it’s dangerous to allow our children to go to houses of neighbors to collect candy. They tell us it’s better for the children if they go to the mall, carefully sanitized and policed buildings where paid employees dole out mass produced pieces of wax masquerading as chocolate into pumpkin-shaped pieces of plastic with flimsy handles.
When we were young (yes, “we” as in you and we), we’d roam the neighborhood in giant packs of all ages, sometimes with a parent idling out on the sidewalk, sometimes without. We’d roar door-to-door, show off our tatters of costumes to the witch-hatted lady at the door, and sometimes go in (gasp! yes, go in to the house of a stranger) to see their boiling cauldron, cackling crone or strobe-lit ghosts. Each house held some piece of unexpected craziness (or at least a treat). The odd house with the lights off was the anomaly, not the rule.
And, in perhaps the hardest piece to reconcile with our modern sensibility: in our bag of treats, alongside the bite-size Snickers and tiny cardboard boxes of Nerds, were…dare we say it…unwrapped treats! Some (yes, dear reader, it hardly seems possible) homemade. Gooey rice krispie treats, crunchy popcorn balls, cellophane-wrapped brownies, and apples. Apples! (Please, somebody administer smelling salts to the lady in the back, the shock of this news has overwhelmed her.)
“But times have changed,” you say. “We didn’t know the risks then”, perhaps, or maybe “they really are greater now.”
Let’s review the numbers, shall we?
- 10: Total number of documented cases of “pins in an apple” in the United States since, 1959 – 2005. And of those ten incidents across the entire country over those forty years, most of them were kids putting things in their own candy or that of their friends as a prank. In the worst case, one person required stitches. There have been no deaths.*
- 30: Number of people who die each year in the US from eating eggs.*
- 51: Number of children who died playing baseball, 1973 – 1983.*
- 42,000: Approximate number of people who die in car accidents each year in the United States.*
Do we stop eating eggs? Stop playing baseball? Forsake our cars?
OK, that last one, we’ll take it up separately. Let’s not get sidetracked, people. We’re on a roll, here.
Now, we hear the rejoinder: there is a risk, so why take it? What’s the harm in keeping the kids in on Halloween night?
The risk is that we deprive our children of the sense of risk and adventure that build initiative, curiosity and independence. By telling them that their neighbors are dangerous, we undermine their trust in their community, and this tears at the very fabric of our society. It splinters us, separating us off into sterile, safe pods where we know nothing better than suckling on corporate pablum and watching network television.
Whew. OK, it’s getting a little dizzy up here on our high horse, we’ll step down.
Really, folks, you should turn on your light and put out a pumpkin this year. If you have kids, take ’em out trick or treating. Every year, we hear from readers who say that they’ve bought big bags of candy to give out, and then nobody shows up at the door. Don’t disappoint your neighbors. They want to see your kid’s dinosaur outfit!
We still haven’t convinced you?
Alright, we didn’t want to have to pull this one out, but you’ve forced our hand. Zillow (Best Places to Trick or Treat in Seattle) has run their enormous database of real estate information through a gigantic, magical machine and determined that:
- Seattle is the #1 city in the country for trick-or-treating
- Wallingford is the #1 neighborhood in Seattle for trick-or-treating
This means, ipso facto, that Wallingford is the #1 neighborhood in the country for trick-or-treating! Living in Wallingford and not trick-or-treating would be like going to Chicago and not ordering deep-dish pizza, going to New York and not eating a bagel, going to Yosemite and not taking a hike!
You owe it to your children, you owe it to your neighbors, you owe to yourself. You owe it to America. Fight the fearists. Trick or treat!