Last weekend, my dad dumped a giant bag of fun size candy bars into a giant bowl. I peered out the window.
"I wonder when trick-or-treaters will get here," I thought out loud, watching my neighbor -- a space alien that night -- decorate a tent in her driveway across the street. "I wonder how many we'll get!"
When the kids finally came, clad in costumes like Spongebob and ninja and princess, I reached into the bowl of candy and tossed some of it into their plastic pumpkins and pillow cases. They thanked me, mostly, and their parents waved. And between each ring of the doorbell, I really couldn't contain my excitement.
I love Halloween. I always have. This year, I think I've figured out why.
As a kid, I didn't care much for the candy (maybe minus Twix), but the experience made me glow. I'd dress up like a gypsy, a witch or a cowgirl and traipse around suburbia knocking on doors, trick-or-treating. Something in the sometimes crisp Florida fall air and in the rubbing elbows in the streets with kids and parents I'd otherwise never meet just made me giddy. For one night -- just one -- we'd all let down our guard.
As a trick-or-treater, I'd wave at people I'd never met. I'd skip across streets and when cars came by, their drivers would smile and stop until we'd crossed. As an adult, I watch my quiet neighborhood come to life. I embrace the one night when suburbia welcomes the stranger.
That's why I love Halloween.
In a neighborhood of folks who stay separated from their nameless neighbors by fences and closed garage doors and "our convenient Lexus cages," to quote Switchfoot, everything changes for a night. We don't get suspicious when strangers walk past our houses. We don't yell at them if they cross the grass. We invite them to our homes. And then we give them things.
Imagine a world where every day felt like that. But instead of candy, we could give guests what they need.
"Instead of monsters and zombies, people could not dress up as anything," my best friend Laurel said the other day. We could all just try to be like Jesus.
If only it didn't take a mask to get us to welcome a stranger, and it didn't take candy to get them to come. And in other ways, if only every day could be more like Halloween.