What to do about Halloween?
This is the second time I've written this post today. I tossed the first because I figure it doesn't really matter that Nathan and I "discussed" ;o) this when first married, he on the cons, me on the pros. Nor does it matter that I clung stubbornly to trick or treating because I wanted to recreate the simpler time, more innocent pleasures of my childhood for my kids. Nor does it matter that I even sewed elaborate costumes just three short years ago so my kids could be super-cute. Or that I'm so thankful the neighbors don't have full-sized dummies strung up by their necks across the street, or that I'm even more thankful for the delish-nature of all things chocolate. See? My thoughts bounce all over the place this time of year, so aren't you glad I avoided putting you readers through that?
Even though the possibility of a certain someone being re-elected ;o) gives me far more concern (and even a nightmare or two), Halloween IS next week. This 'minor' issue comes up annually, and my kids discuss it from the moment the decor appears in the store (approx. March) until Christmas baubles overwhelm their petrified little psyches with joy. My children truly hate Halloween. OK, Kathryn truly hates Halloween. Alex just does because she does. She's scared stiff of everything related to it. And note to retailers: the decor that yells out at you when you move too close isn't helping! Last year, I actually intercepted a Walmart employee who thought it would be fun to jump out at them with a hockey mask on. (They didn't see him, but I gave him a nice motherly reprimand). And then it gets really complicated. Every church we've been in over the years has some kind of event that night. Trunk or Treat, Fall Festival, Jesus Doesn't Trick, He Treats- it must be a local phenomenon. None of you have heard of this, right?
So... what to do? There are varied, and strong, opinions on the subject. Do we 'redeem' Halloween, 'reject' Halloween? What about those weirdos who do Reformation Day instead? (;o)- a little hint about what our Oct. 31 blog will look like). In the discussion, it's easy to lose the fact that there are impressionable, sensitive children involved in our decisions. So here are just some thoughts to consider:
1. What is the purpose of your local church's event? There is a great difference between giving the Christian kids wholesome activities so they don't feel punished for not 'doing' Halloween, and doing 'outreach' to the community.
2. If your church is of the outreach mindset, is it working? I mean, are people responding to the gospel, or are you just a place where lots of candy can be gained for little work on the parents' part?
3. Do you restrict your kids' movie watching to a certain rating but then expect them to comfortably 'minister' to the neighborhood kids/adults dressed up in scary, scary costumes? Or sexy, sexy costumes? How do you deal with their fear/shock? If they're not afraid, is that always a good thing?
4. Is your child's conscience bothered by participating in the events your family goes to? How does your family deal with that? Is it a "you stay home with the babysitter, mommy and daddy have to go - it's a church thing, you know" or maybe "you know it's just pretend, it's not real." I'm going to give credit here where credit is due. I heard Karen Blankenship (a Bible Methodist pastor's wife) counsel a mom with a sensitive child with this simple question: "What does what you do say to this child?" I've thought a LOT about this one.
5. Is your desire for sentimentality closing your eyes to what is around this holiday these days? I know the devil is blamed for everything, but focusing on the macabre, the spooky, the evil- how is this possibly a "God-honoring" activity? (Note to trunk or treaters at CHURCHES: I've seen some dark stuff in Christians' car trunks. Our image to the world should be intentional and careful- just saying)
6. If your spiritual authority (pastor) asks you to participate when you're not comfortable, what does a respectful appeal look like? How might you 'participate' and still value your family's position? (This can take creative thought).
7. And most importantly, how does what our family do show our love for God and our love for others? (Including the others living under our roof?)
Did you hear the doorbell? Trick or treat! Here's your can of (gummy) worms! ;o)