Tuesday, November 2, 2010
The most valuable commodity
And so another magnificent Halloween blows in with the falling leaves and scatters just as quickly. Dean's costume this year was pretty straightforward in terms of the sewing/construction, but he loved it and was a big hit while trick-or-treating.
We took the big leap this year, and let Dean go off with his two best friends. They traversed a street that goes all-out; the street is closed to traffic for three hours, the homes are all decked out and people go to such lengths as to put up cotton candy and popcorn machines in their yards. The street isn't particularly chock-full of homes, but it's the quality over quantity issue at work.
The whole trick-or-treating scene is kind of complicated out here. In many areas, including the street where we live, the houses are very spread out and there are rarely sidewalks. So aside from the usual risks people associate with the endeavor, there's a higher risk of being hit by a car or tripping somewhere along the unlit roads (that's the other wrinkle).
Kids and parents compensate by often choosing other neighborhoods to visit -- ones where there are sidewalks, and homes in reasonable proximity, and street lights. And it goes over pretty well in those neighborhoods. Rare is the house that's shut up and dark -- the norm is a decorating extravaganza to rival the winter holidays. In fact, I felt bad last night for the homes I passed while driving that were trying so hard to attract trick-or-treaters but were unlikely to receive any because of their location. I wish we lived in one of those prime trick-or-treat neighborhoods because I'd love to spend the evening watching the parade come right up to our door.
After he and his friends had been out for only an hour, I got the call from him that they were done. But what they wanted was to spend the rest of the evening hanging out together, and they were all invited to one of the family's homes. I was kind of surprised at first; we'd spend hours, and hours, and hours as kids, going as far and wide as we could to collect the most pounds of candy possible. Give up after an hour? No way!
But as I thought about it, I realized that for Dean and his friends candy really isn't a very precious commodity. They are all being raised in homes where it's not a big deal to have some candy -- not that any of them are rolling in it, but it's more or less available when they'd like it. They don't have to hoard it. But what they don't have nearly enough of is time with each other -- and that's what they yearn for. We don't live on the same street as his best friends; we all don't even live in the same town. The boys don't come home after a day of school and then spend the afternoon to early evening in each other's company every day, and they don't spend all day of every weekend together.
The proposition is completely flipped. The one thing we DID have growing up was constant access to and time with friends. But now that's the most valuable commodity.
I love that they just inherently got it right. They loved dressing up, they loved the street scene and the trick-or-treating. But they knew what they valued most, and so that's how they chose to use most of their time.
Dean's already thinking about what he wants to be next year. And I'm working to figure out when he can invite his friends over to play.