Trick or Treat

I was brooding on something that I had asked my wife to do several weeks ago that she hasn’t done yet. I was going to mention it again to her, but then I thought, It’s Halloween. 

Yesterday finally I bought pumpkins and chocolates. My oldest daughter is coming home today and expects to have pumpkins to carve. The theme of late has been Star Wars.

As I await my daughter’s return and a new year of artwork, I examine the chocolate.  This is chocolate, not candy, and there’s a difference – see my previous posts.  Once again I have bought more chocolate than I will likely need for tomorrow’s visitors: our neighbourhood is aging at present and there haven’t been that many little children around. But that’s okay: I buy things that I won’t mind eating. In fact, I’ve already had to do some quality control on this batch before I hand it out…

Answering the door at Halloween is, borrowing from Forest Gump’s phrase, like life, and a box of chocolates, because you never know what’s going to turn up next.  There are little kids in cute costumes, big kids in no costumes, assorted kids in costumes of assorted quality, and the occasional adult friend who shows up at the door, in costume.

My response to whoever comes to the door tomorrow night is the same: like the DoDo bird’s verdict in Alice in Wonderland, “All have won and all shall have prizes”. They all get the same chocolate.

Steven Stosny, a therapist who specializes in treating male domestic abusers, wrote a book with Pat Love, called How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It.  I haven’t read the book yet, but I have recently finished a course with him in which he talks about the material in the book. Besides looking at the differences (the tendency, anyway) between men and women, he also talks about the primary importance of connection, and the fallacy that communication can foster connection. If you’re not connected, you can’t communicate. If you are connected, it doesn’t matter whether you communicate. Furthermore, connection is a matter of choice: you can choose to feel connected, no matter what the other person is doing. They can even be dead, he says. Lots of people feel connected to dead people. Just go to a funeral and say it isn’t so.

Halloween brings up spectres of dead people, spirits rising from the grave. And the costumes that we wear reflect a certain connection that we choose to make to a character, spook or other dead thing. 

That’s why I didn’t say anything to my wife: it’s Halloween, the season of honouring connection. Not that I’m dressing up as my wife…

Besides honouring connection, Halloween is the season of unconditional giving, sort of a pre-Christmas. No matter what costume you wear, no matter what you say when you come to my door, you get chocolate. The visitors threaten a conditional relationship: “Trick or treat!”  But they don’t mean it. They don’t trick me no matter what I do. And I give them treats no matter what they do.

And for the night, I am connected to them, too. I find that Halloween, more than Christmas, is the one night I feel most connected with my neighbours. When my children were smaller, we walked the streets together, my neighbours and I. Now I greet them at the door. We still connect.

Stosny says that you have to make connection the primary thing in your life. It’s more important than communication, and it’s more important than the tricks or treats your partner bestows upon you. Choosing to be connected to someone will make you happier, and you will live longer. Now I think that there are limits: I would not choose to stay connected to someone who was abusive, and who will not change. But for what my wife forgot to do, it’s not worth mentioning. I’ll eat some more chocolate, and if it’s still bothering me, I’ll do it myself.

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