On the other side of the door, I heard his Mom urge: “…knock. Knock on the door.”

Suddenly, I saw the handle starting to turn.

“No, don’t open the door! Knock on the door.”

After a quick double knock, I opened up. There was a tall boy in front of me. He looked 12 or 13 and wore a big smile. Behind him, at the base of the stairs, his mom continued to coach him through.

We had almost 200 excited kids at the door last night as we handed out Halloween candy. My favourite was this trick-or-treater who almost walked right in.

I like earnest, smiling people, so both he and his Mom won me over right away. I also love how Halloween gives parents and neighbours an opportunity to teach kids community skills like: knocking, greeting, chatting, generosity, respecting property, saying thank you and showing appreciation.

Last year, I had to tell my youngest not to ask for different candy than what he was given. So there are always things I take for granted that have to be learned. And there are always other unexpected things that happen too. I like playing my part in the whole thing. We’re in a busy family neighbourhood near the local school, so things get hoping around 6:00 pm and go strong for about 90 minutes.

Last night, I was the one handing out the candy. I don’t try to hurry through the trick-or-treaters at the door, but we have over 150 kids every year, so I expect it to be busy.

This year, my favourite trick-or-treater was that older boy who almost walked right into the house without knocking. He wore a big smile and presented some developmental delays. He mentioned how much he loved the giant skull on the door, how scary it was, how it moved and looked alive!

It’s just the sort of reaction and experience we hope for when we pick out Halloween decorations and dress our house for the night. So when he wanted to talk about it, to really appreciate it, even though his mom gently urged him to hurry up because kids were lining up behind him, I wanted to stay in the moment with him, to let him finish talking about the skull.

When someone is fully in the moment as he was tonight, when they’re in the NOW like that, it’s an open door. It’s just an awareness and a choice in that moment. I can ignore it and busily brush it aside as I’ve done with so many things in my life, so many times before, or I can take the moment, settle into it, and have a deeper experience.

It’s not a big thing. It’s a small thing.

Steve said he remembered the same boy coming to our door last year too. He remembered because the boy loved our giant motion-sensor spider that year, how it crawled up and down the brick wall when trick-or-treaters walked up. It’s not a big thing. It’s a small thing. But he’s one of few trick-or-treaters we remember clearly year after year: the boy who so readily appreciates what’s right in front of him. 

After that, I made sure to appreciate something special about every child’s costume or make up. It’s something I like to do anyway, but our joyful trick-or-treater reminded me how good it feels to have someone notice and enjoy or appreciate something special and specific about you in the moment.

That’s not a small thing. It’s a big thing.