Sunday, November 1, 2015

Do I have to Give Candy?

Dear Prudence,
I live in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country, but on one of the more “modest” streets—mostly doctors and lawyers and family business owners. (A few blocks away are billionaires, families with famous last names, media moguls, etc.) I have noticed that on Halloween, what seems like 75 percent of the trick-or-treaters are clearly not from this neighborhood. Kids arrive in overflowing cars from less fortunate areas. I feel this is inappropriate. Halloween isn’t a social service or a charity in which I have to buy candy for less fortunate children. Obviously, this makes me feel like a terrible person, because what is the big deal about making less fortunate kids happy on a holiday. But it just bugs me, because we already pay more than enough taxes toward actual social services. Should Halloween be a neighborhood activity, or is it legitimately a free-for-all in which people hunt down the best candy grounds for their kids?
—Halloween for the 99 Percent

Last year a woman was so worried about poor, overweight children, she took it upon herself to decide which kids got candy and which she would give fruit or water. I guess she felt it was her duty to get these kids in shape. In one way, it was a noble effort. However, in other ways: it was wrong on so many levels.
First, let me tell you women, I am sure the poor kids all over America were happy you cared.
When I was a child, growing up in Palo Alto, California (not your typically poor area, believe me) I went trick or treating with the kids in my neighborhood. We would walk all over the city, ring the doorbell and shout trick or treat to whomever answered the door.
Now if you do not know about Palo Alto, it is full of Stanford University professors, lawyers, executives from Hewlett –Packard and IBM.
Now, the kids in my neighborhood? We were not the kids of those people; we were the kids of the people who worked for those people. Still no one said anything when we knocked on the door; they just dumped candy in our bags and smiled. Were rich people nicer then?
Being rich is hard. People are always asking for things.
I actually feel sorry for the writer, she says, I know I should feel like a bad person…but-
I hate to tell you, that Reese’s’ is not going to do anything but give a child a few minutes of joy: Did you think perhaps they live in neighbors where candy is a high commodity? Rent and food take priority.
In addition, you know what?  Giving the kids fruit and water because you have decided they are overweight will just hurt their psyche, and perhaps they will develop issues.
Seriously, though, I would like to thank both of you for your concern for these children. It shines right through.
For the little girl whose mom drives her over to your neighborhood, because her own is full of gangs, and drive byes…she can relax a little in your neighborhood. Luckily, her mom does not know about you, miss 99 percent.
For the little boy that had health problems, and cannot lose weight because his diet is cheap foods, rice, potatoes, his mom cannot afford the green leafy veggies that would so help his problem.
Let us kook in your own neighborhood:
How about the three year old dressed to go out to trick or treat and her mother’s boyfriend beat her to death. Because in her excitement she soiled her pants
Luckily, she is not coming to your door. You can save the candy.
If I had a chance to speak to both of you women, I would tell you this:
Kids should not hurt. Not ever. Not by words, not by hitting…not by anything
Adults should not be the cause of their pain. Lock your door, leave town, turn your light off You don’t have to give out candy …As a matter of fact spare the kids your contempt, go watch a movie.Now, go put your brooms away.
Dear 99,
In the urban neighborhood where I used to live, families who were not from the immediate area would come in fairly large groups to trick-or-treat on our streets, which were safe, well-lit, and full of people overstocked with candy. It was delightful to see the little mermaids, spider-men, ghosts, and the occasional axe murderer excitedly run up and down our front steps, having the time of their lives. So we’d spend an extra $20 to make sure we had enough candy for kids who weren’t as fortunate as ours. There you are, 99, on the impoverished side of Greenwich or Beverly Hills, with the other struggling lawyers, doctors, and business owners. Your whine makes me kind of wish that people from the actual poor side of town come this year not with scary costumes but with real pitchforks. Stop being callous and miserly and go to Costco, you cheapskate, and get enough candy to fill the bags of the kids who come one day a year to marvel at how the 1 percent live.
Credit for the letter goes to Dear Prudence publication date Oct.23, 2014 Slate mag.

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