Saturday, October 30, 2010

Not Tricks, Just Treats

Walking by a local gift shop's display window in my quaint downtown Berwyn, PA the other day, I saw a black sweater with witches embroidered on it, a motion detecting skeleton and a dried wreath with small pumpkin lights and I wondered, when did this all happen?  Where did the inflatable lawn figures of black-cats, the plastic flesh body parts, those bats with the L.E.D. eyes, even luminaries lining driveways, where did it all come from?  

When I was little Halloween wasn't so, well, notorious.  Yes, we had the costumes and the door to door candy seeking activities (with my dad dressed up as a physician because he was one and had the stethoscope) but we missed out on the festival atmosphere that is injected into this event, today.  Okay, so maybe its a business push, the expansion of Christmas holidays right through Thanksgiving and into Halloween with hats off to good old American capitalism to getting all of us geared up early in the "buying season".  But there's also another element, a new element, tied into the age old "trick or treat" aspect of Halloween.  

My good friend, Donna Guthrie (yes she is my sister-in-law) captured it succinctly in her latest episode at MeetMeAtTheCorner, a site for 7-13 year olds but you'll enjoy it too.  The 2 minute video which highlights Halloween, also highlights this new element, philanthropy.  You know philanthropy, the desire to improve human welfare through charitable or selfless activities.  

Halloween is a great way to get your kids thinking about ways to help others and there's a huge benefit.  Just  take a minute to learn about some of the high school kids that have gotten Jefferson Awards for Public Service because they concocted ways to lend a hand in their communities.  The fruit of this type of action is greater than the gift itself because the kids involved discover how to involve others.  They find out how to organize and plan an event around a focused goal. They learn how to be leaders. 

So when you watch Donna's Halloween video episode, it's really much more than "that's nice".  Its a way to take a silly holiday where your kids beg for candy and turn it into a lesson in developing homespun leadership.  Still fun, but not so silly.  Now where did I leave my broom and the chocolate!

See pictures as my kids fend off the Zombie Hordes and other interesting stories!  

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