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Glance (graphite by Saira Merchant, 13; published in the November/December 2023 issue of Stone Soup

A note from Emma Wood

Dear readers,

As I’ve gotten older, and as the holidays have grown in significance (as they do when you have young children for whom they are magical and new and thrilling!), they have also seemed to grow even closer in time: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas—with multiple family birthdays thrown in! And there is so much to do for each: plan travel, prepare meals for large groups that fit all the dietary needs, buy and wrap meaningful presents, coordinate holiday parties and school events, somehow make time to slow down and reflect on the past year, and, of course, give to causes that matter to me. So I am grateful that you are taking the time to read this letter now, whether you are standing in line at the post office reading this on your phone, or sitting down on a sofa at home.

Right now, the causes that are dear to me, as a teacher and educator with two young children, involve both education and children (not counting Stone Soup!). I like participating in coordinated efforts to buy gifts for families who can’t afford to—to help perpetuate both the magic of Christmas and the spirit of generosity that animates it.

In her memoir “Halloween Guilt” from our November/December issue, Yanling Lin explores what it feels like to do the “right” thing versus the “wrong” thing. While her story discusses trick-or-treating, and specifically whether to take more candy than is allowed, the lesson applies to life. As she watches a boy dump an entire bowl of candy into his bag, Lin writes, “I wished I’d had the nerve to do so without any mental quandaries. At the same time, I liked that my morals were strong enough to keep me from doing the same.” I love the reminder, wrapped in a metaphor, that this memoir gives us: not to take more than our share and to leave resources for others who are yet to come—another way of giving.

As you reflect on your year and on the causes you plan to support, I hope you will consider including Stone Soup among them. It has been a tumultuous year for the organization but I am proud of all we have accomplished in our fiftieth year and very grateful to be a part of it all. Thank you for supporting us as readers, writers, artists, and more!


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From Stone Soup
November/December 2023

Halloween Guilt

by Yanling Lin, 11

Every year on Halloween night, I spot something bewildering. I spot something that makes me audibly gasp, guffaw, or simply gawk. This year was no exception. The moment took place long into the night, catching me more off guard than usual.

*          *          *

Rewinding back to earlier during Halloween evening, I sat by the window watching the sun set. I had scarfed down dinner and pulled on my costume, only to wait for my mom to finish as well.

“The candy will still be there in fifteen minutes,” my mom told me. That was easy for her to say. She was only a bystander in the game of gathering sweet treats from neighbors. I was a player. After enough pleas and other people going outside, we finally joined the parade. The golden glow of the sun waving “goodnight” kept my breathing even. In my mind, I had all night to collect sweets from around the neighborhood. I sauntered along the sidewalk, letting the giddy five- and six-year-olds sprint past, knowing they had to be in bed by nine o’clock. As darkness descended, I became those giddy kids running from door to door. The night was growing, and so was my desire for candy. I passed numerous empty houses as I traipsed down the unlit sidewalks. With each step I heard my boots scratching against the ground, creating a rhythmic thump-thump. The bag handles sank into my flesh, slowing me down. That didn’t stop me from going on. I half-skipped between doorsteps, my “Trick or treat!” bouncing as I spoke it. I powered through the night because within those dark alleys were the treasure troves of Halloween.

Many of these dark houses were accompanied by bowls of candy. Attached to these bowls were signs saying “Please Take 1” (or “2,” if I was lucky). These directions posed a moral dilemma. As I dug through the bowls, I wondered, Do I follow my own goals, or obediently do as told?

Click here to find out what happens next.

Stone Soup is published by Children’s Art Foundation-Stone Soup Inc., a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit organization registered
in the United States of America, EIN: 23-7317498.


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