An interesting event has made the news since Halloween. A man, new to a neighbourhood received this letter for not handing out candy on Halloween.
I'm not sure what your reaction to this letter is. For me, it is deeply troubling.
I love Halloween, I always have. I find it to be a lot of fun and this year I loved it again as, at times, our complex was alive with the sound of children going door to door and the street full of parents with smiles on their faces. There was energy in the air and it felt like community.... I love that.
There were, of course, houses in our complex without their porch lights on. People who, for a variety of reasons, were not handing out candy; people who were off to work, or visiting in another neighbourhood or who decided not to join the festivities of Halloween for personal, religious or cultural reasons.
We, ourselves have some reservations. Our children only eat Fair-trade chocolate, for example, but our kids gladly pick though their candy and dispose of the chocolate that isn't Fair-trade. This year they did this without even a slight moan, they did it with enthusiasm and fun!
I wish I could say my kids are always so joyful.
Truth is there are times when I feel that I have taught them poorly. My saddest moments as a parent are when my kids, instead of being thankful for what they have are instead upset over what they don't have, or didn't get or want more of. I'm not disappointed in them, these moments are inevitable. I simply desire a reality where thankfulness is our default and entitlement less and less so.
Like I said, I love Halloween. I would even encourage homes to take part as I believe it is a great moment for community and for fun. However, if someone chooses to not take part... WHATEVER! No big deal! No problem! There are many reasons for this. For this 26 year old man for Oshawa, he plays darts with friends every Monday and was doing so again on Halloween, and that is absolutely fine.
He felt bad, at first, after receiving this letter. But after some thought wrote this response on his Facebook which a friend then posted here on Kijiji.
Most of the response I dislike. His initial feelings of guilt have given way to bitterness and sarcasm and even going so far as to rub it in the kids faces by eating candy on his lawn with friends and suggesting that the kids ought to clean up the garbage (he's even in the paper eating away here in the Toronto Sun). In many ways the response is just as immature as the original letter. Only the greeting was right on the money as he addressed his response to Dear Children of Entitlement.
We are a spoiled lot here in Canada. Surrounded by such excess, unfortunately entitlement will be our default. It will take energy and intentionality to remember thankfulness in a society of overindulgence and waste.
Kids with bags full of candy that spend their time writing angry letters complaining that they didn't get more.
Adults who go to extreme lengths to rub a lesson in the face of kids who think need to be taught a lesson. (They already thought you were a jerk, you don't need to prove them right!)
Both screaming, “IF ONLY EVERYONE WOULD JUST DO THINGS THEY WAY THAT I WANT THEM TO!” Both serve as examples of a self-centred society where healthy community will also always take effort.
These types of letters and responses don't make me give up hope though. Instead, they encourage me to continue the battle for something better. If it takes effort to remember thankfulness; it is an effort well worth giving. It takes effort to build healthy community; let's get to work!
What we must refuse to do is look at entitlement and greed and narcissism and the fracturing of our communities and respond, "Well, that's just the way it is." It is not just the way it is; it is the way we have learned to be. If we can learn greed, we can learn generosity. If we have learned entitlement, we can learn gratitude. If we have learned narcissism, we can learn selflessness.
I keep learning and I hope we can learn together.