Column: At Halloween, please take just one

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Commentary by Jim Serger

It’s that time of year once more. Leaves falling, chill in the air and more notably the house decorations for my daughter’s favorite holiday: Halloween. We place so much time and effort into this eerie day – faux cobwebs, witches cauldrons, carving our pumpkins, inflatable displays and strobe lights so bright our dwelling can be seen from the space station.

All the chatter on the streets is creepy clowns. Whatever happened to Dracula and the mummy? Today it’s Harley Quinn, Anna or Elsa, Captain America, Batman, Deadpool and, let’s not forget, Trump and Clinton. Ghosts, goblins and ghouls are a mania of the past. A good scare is gone. Carrying pillowcases is a throwback to the ’70s and ’80s. Today it’s as if everything just needs to be so clean and crisp. You know, store-bought. Run up at the last minute, drop 50 bucks and whammo, you have yourself a costume.

One character trait that is diminishing is trust. Thomas Jefferson said, “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” It’s no longer the journey that is memorable; it’s “let’s get to the finish line and look at what we have won,” in this case, the amount of candy we have gathered up. In my neighborhood, moms and dads will be walking around with their little lions and tigers, holding hands and doing some coaching. In the meantime, pre-teens and teenagers will be running all over the place in full sprint from house to house to house to hoard all the candy as quickly as they can—just like pre-teens and teens in other neighborhoods throughout the U.S.

In my case when I would walk around with my little girl, we used to place a cooler full of candy on the front porch with a sign that said, “Please, just take one.” In retrospect what the sign should have read is, “Please, no one is looking, dump it all into your bag and leave nothing for others.” I was naïve, to say the least, to think that kids would only take just one, maybe two or three. I was a kid once, and my night was judged by how much my pillowcase weighed after my marathon was over. Not thinking about others, not thinking about the ones that were coming up behind me. Yes, me. I was the one who knew no one was looking and grabbed a handful and sprinted off to the next house, hoping not to be caught. My buddies and I would just laugh, not once thinking about others.

Adults understand the concept of trust. However, little monsters don’t. This holiday is a super guide to teach a little morals and values. Sure, it’s just Halloween. A very simple holiday, yet we can use this to our advantage and explain the meaning of trust as the hour looms closer. We have a quick talk about honesty, trust, placing others first, about thinking of the next person and, moreover, thinking about respect for another human being. It’s just candy, but candy and explaining can go hand-in-hand. Use this holiday as my parents did with me. “Jim, how did you get 25 pounds of candy?” The sign said, “Please, just take one.”

Jim Serger is an author and Carmel resident.

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