And they just give us candy?


My friend Jennifer had never gone trick-or-treating even though we were both middle-schoolers who were pushing the age at which it’s acceptable to dress up as goblins and demand candy from strangers. Actually, once you put it that way, it’s hard to believe there’s ever an age at which that’s acceptable. Jennifer’s parents did missionary work abroad and they’d never been in the US during Halloween, so I became her guide to a holiday that I hadn’t known wasn’t celebrated everywhere. We dressed up in costumes I can’t remember and trekked through my neighborhood collecting candy.

“So we go up to the door and say ‘Trick or treat?” she asked.


“And they just give us candy?”


“Uh, ok.”

When I went trick-or-treating with Jennifer I felt like a native guide showing an anthropologist around my home country. She never said, “What strange customs your have!” But I could tell by her bemused expression that she was probably thinking it. Trick-or-treating was normal to me, but a novelty to her. It was one of the first times that I realized what I thought was normal wasn’t normal for everyone else. My life was not like everyone else’s life. My part of the world was not like everyone else’s part of the world. It’s something most people discover if they travel abroad, like I did many years later and got to marvel at things like prawn sandwiches and Nutella paninis.

It made me realize that so many of our holidays and customs must seem strange and exotic upon first encounter. I guess if you’re around anything long enough it can seem familiar and normal and “just how we do things.” But it’s good to appreciate that it’s not normal for everyone. It’s good to be open to new experiences. Especially experiences that involve free candy.

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  1. Sharilyn says

    I hope you don’t stop posting regularly now that your 31 days in a row are over. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your great thoughts every day this month. You are truly an articulate and talented writer. Thank you for sharing.

  2. says

    Yeah it’s a pretty strange tradition, just like that big old guy who comes down the chimney to give presents. My French in-laws scratch their heads at that one!

    I’m in agreement with Sharilyn and hope that you continue to post on a regular basis because you’re a frikken awesome writer.

  3. says

    I live in Australia where we don’t have Halloween, but for the past few years the shops have started pushing for it — decorating with scary stuff and cobwebs, discounting lollies (candy). Last night for the first time a group of about six children, led by a little boy neighbour who I know well whose costume was a carboard box on his head (a robot maybe?) turned up at my door. Of course I didn’t have anything prepared, but luckily I had a secret stash of chocolate frogs to hand out.

    I had to promise my own children (8 & 5) that we would go next year. And gave them the last chocolate frogs. Damn you, Americans!

  4. says

    I admit it. I’ve been spoiled by you having a post here everyday. I’m suffering JenFul withdrawal. But I know it’s not easy to write every day, especially when you’re working a lot trying to make a living and there are health issues involved. So I will wait patiently with eagerness for your next post. I’ll try not to drool. :-)

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