The babies and I just got back from a ten-day trip in which I met up with my younger sister at my older sister’s house for a visit. That doesn’t happen often, and every single moment was precious to me. I felt like Jim and Pam taking mental pictures at their wedding—so many images remain in my heart of my family fellowshipping, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that time.
We got there Halloween afternoon after a long—long—day of airplane travel. After warm greetings and lots of hugs, we put the kids and babies in costumes to head out for trick-or-treating. Baby V was supposed to be Buzz Lightyear, but he wasn’t convinced.
Baby A was content as The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
My sister lives on a small street with few children, so we drove to a neighboring neighborhood. My, was I overwhelmed.
We live downtown, but in a modest area. We don’t have driveways—we have alleys. And we typically get only about half a dozen trick-or-treaters, but we treat them very well with lots of candy. Each year I wait with eager anticipation to ooh and ahh over the children who ring our doorbell.But this was unexpected. In this neighborhood, decorations were almost Claire-Dunphy elaborate. We didn’t ring a single doorbell; the candy-hander-outers all sat in their driveways, most with firepits and caldrons full of candy. Many had music playing and many were dressed in costume to greet the children.
I teared up at the sense of community I felt half a country away from my own community. This American tradition was bringing together people of all shapes, colors, beliefs. All in the name of candy. But really, all in the name of community, of wanting to share something special with their neighbor, of wanting to know each other and be known. The sounds of chitchat and laughter astounded me and caused me to talk a bit louder and laugh a little more. By the time we got back to my sister’s house, I was energized by being a part of this neighborly effort to be kind and a blessing to one another. I lay awake that night thinking about it.
And almost 2 weeks later, I’m still thinking about it. How do I translate that experience to my own neighborhood? How do I engage my neighbors instead of retreat into my community? How do I teach my children the importance of being warm and welcoming to people who may be different instead of finding refuge in people who are just like them? How do we, as a family, participate instead of isolate?
How do you navigate these waters?