It’s Halloween today, and tonight costume-clad kids will roam neighborhoods attempting to acquire as much candy as they can. They will come to my door and my neighbor’s door with their jack-o-lantern shaped plastic buckets or ratty pillowcases and utter those magical words, “Trick or treat.” They will quickly leave once the candy has been distributed to hit up the next house for even more treats.
For the most part, it is little kids with parents standing discreetly in the background. There are the occasional older ones, who are racing from house to house in an attempt to get as much candy as they can. They make me think of the lyrics from the Depeche Mode song Everything Counts, “The grabbing hands grab all they can. Everything counts in large amounts.”
I was at a Depeche Mode concert only a couple of months ago. I admit I was more into their earlier music but they had some good new stuff as well. My sister-in-law came with us but didn’t sit with us. She opted for a VIP seat, which means she paid A LOT of money. My wife and I opted for the more pedestrian experience with the huddled masses on the back lawn (it was at an outdoor amphitheater.) We didn’t pay anything close to what my sister-in-law paid nor did we get any branded swag out of the deal. We were just fine.
Back in the day, I was into getting as much candy as I could on Halloween. Originally, however, I really enjoyed dressing up in a custom for a night of fun. My transformation of trick or treating objectives from, “get dressed up and have fun” to “get as much candy as possible” happened sometime in late grade school. I would have never thought of using a pillowcase until the day my friends explained to me the virtue of doing so. “You can get more candy in a pillowcase,” I was told, and “the pillowcase is easier to hold while running at top speed from house to house.” Yes, everything counted in large amounts—of candy!
Depeche Mode wasn’t singing about candy in their song, rather about business deals and greed. Still, as you and I both know, greed plays a big role when it comes to the great candy rush on Halloween. Success is measured in quantity. “It’s a competitive world. Everything counts in large amounts.”
I won’t make the claim that the greed found in the business world starts with trick or treating. But greed starts somewhere and if we aren’t careful it follows us in everything we do. We begin to want more not because it’s better, but because it’s more. And if we really aren’t careful, we get trapped into believing more will make us happy. It might with candy—until we try to eat it all in one night. That is when you learn the price of overindulgence and what seemed like the path to bliss was the road to misery.
At some point, usually as a parent, when it comes to the Halloween candy issue, quantity stops becoming important to you and quality begins to matter. Did your kid bring back the stuff you really wanted? For me, it’s all about Sweet Tarts and Take Five candy bars. Convincing your child to share their loot might be problematic and is another life lesson to be explored another time.
It is an important day when we learn that, no, not everything counts in large amounts. It may be a competitive world, but greed should never be our motivation—Halloween candy notwithstanding.
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