Photo: Catherine Myman Kaplan

We spend most of our children’s lives telling them not to take anything from strangers and definitely do not go to their homes. Except once a year when it becomes totally okay to do those two activities.

That time comes every October 31, greeted by delight by some and eye rolls. When that day comes around, we encourage our children to ring on the doorbells of total strangers and threaten them with a trick if they do not hand over a miniature piece of candy. In an overpriced costume they will wear once. At night. Past their bedtime. 

Now I’m not some curmudgeon opposed to candy, costumes, and fun. I personally love that I can make up how many fun-sized Snickers bars add up to one regular sized one (my guess is 27) and delight in hearing the squeals of delight when I pretend that I see a real life (albeit miniature) Jedi standing at my front door. It is great to exchange hellos with the people in my neighborhood and to watch their kids grow up. 

And of course, it’s wonderful to see my daughter and her friends show off their costumes and compare their hauls of candy. But there is that part of me that wonders what they must think that one night when the basic rules of stranger danger seem not to apply. Most likely they do not even give it a second thought. I know I didn’t when I was a kid.