This past Halloween was a different one for our children…a change in our tradition of “get all the candy you can and then binge on sweets for the next few weeks”.
One of our children has dietary restrictions with sugar and can’t eat the candy that you get from all the Trick-or-Treating. So, in the days prior to “The Big Candy Day”, he agreed to our idea that instead of keeping the candy for himself, he’d just collect candy for his Apu (grandma) and cousins in the Philippines since they don’t do Halloween like we do in the U.S. They’d enjoy it better there since they don’t get this kind of candy often over there.
Then, the younger siblings wanted “in” on it too. My wife said they could keep a portion of their stash if they wanted to, and the rest they could send. They were excited about that.
The older siblings agreed to join in as well. To them, it looked like their season of free candy stashes was coming to an end, but at least they weren’t gonna “lose out” completely on their booty.
Halloween night. It was a nice night: not too cold or dark. The kids were excited! They set out earlier than past years. They wanted to reach many more streets than usual. They split up, and I accompanied the two little ones.
Well, I just couldn’t keep up. Those two ran from house to house, giggling and laughing in between each one. In past years, we’d just stroll. Not this time. They told me they wanted to go “across the street” and not just the neighboring streets. Well, we just went all over…even to streets we’ve never been to before!
Over an hour and a half of trick-or-treating, and my little minions’ feet were starting to give out on them…but their excitement on how much candy they got didn’t! We got home long before the other siblings did, and the loot was spilled onto the floor for a good look-see. And what a sight! “We’ve never had this much candy before! Apu will be so happy!” The little ones got their small portion, and the rest they put in a plastic bag for their Apu.
“Sugar-free” son soon came home with his pillowcase loot and emptied it all on the carpet while the little ones gathered wide-eyed and marveled at all the candy he got. He gave me a small handful (the “Daddy tax”), and the rest happily went into a bag for Apu.
My older sons came home from their ventures. They had gone to more streets this year too. I noticed that they were a bit more measured in their giving than their younger siblings. They counted their stash and gave a percentage. They took the “best and biggest” ones for themselves, gave their “Daddy tax”, and gave the rest away.
The Trick in Treating
I find it fascinating how easy it is to give when you feel like you don’t have much or anything to lose. Isn’t that really the purpose of having an abundance? To make it easy for us to feel that we don’t have much to lose…so that we could give more easily? When we have an abundance, it’s easier to give. My little ones—who felt like they had soooo much—found it so easy to give. It wasn’t hard for them to give it up because they knew they came through with a lot. And for the one who couldn’t have any of it, he didn’t have a lot to lose….so he gave it all.
However, when you feel like you have much to lose, it’s more challenging to give….no matter how much…or how little…you have. That’s what my older sons felt, and why they took a much greater percentage for themselves after looking at what was worth keeping and worth just giving away. Sometimes, we don’t want to give up our abundance. We’re calculating in our giving. Some would call it “being stingy”. Yet, we perform the “action” of giving without really being generous. We just look like we’re Giving, but our heart’s not really in it all the way.
Surviving Halloween (which, in today’s world, has become a time of selfishness) for me means to use it as a time of preparation for the upcoming seasons of “thanks” giving and “gift” giving. This Halloween, during a season when people are motivated to do things to engorge for themselves, our children agreed with us to go Trick-or-Treating not for themselves, but for others. It was to be an experience not in Self-indulgence, but in Giving. And what better way to learn how to give than when you have your abundance directly in front of you, when you know exactly how much you will lose?
Whether we feel like we have an abundance, or despite the feeling that we are not going to have an abundance, the real “Trick” in Halloween…is “Treating”…or Giving…Freely, Generously, with all your Heart.
The LDS Lamplighter