I’ve never been a BIG Halloween fan, but as a kid, we often begged our mom to go somewhere or do something for Halloween. The biggest reason I wanted to go trick-or-treating was for the candy, and the only reason I wanted to attend parties was for the fun and friends. We’d often attend events put on by local churches and honestly, as long as we came home with a decent take of goodies my brother and I would be fairly satisfied. We weren’t allowed to dress up as scary things, but we usually had fun finding other things to “be” for Halloween – if we even dressed up at all.
As a new mom, I continued on with the same traditions from my childhood. I have pictures of my daughters’ early years, dressed up in adorable costumes at our local Harvest Fest. One year my girls were Cinderella and Ariel, another it was Wendy and Tinkerbell. They didn’t really know what it was all about but there were balloons and candy and bouncy houses – what kid wouldn’t like that?
It wasn’t all at first that I began to reassess my opinions about this particular holiday. But while attending the Harvest Fest several years ago, a gnawing dissatisfaction began to eat away in my heart. I observed in my children the very same attitudes I knew I’d had as a kid. It was true that we weren’t dressing up as scary monsters, getting into mischief, doing anything unsafe or anything of that sort…We weren’t even saying “Trick or Treat” at the Safe Treat the businesses around the town square provided. No, we were better than that – we said “please” and “thank you” with a holy “God Bless You!” thrown in here and there. That made everything better, right?
You can throw glitter on a rock, but it’s still a rock. It will never be a precious gem. In my heart I knew that though there wasn’t anything horrendously WRONG with participating in the event, there wasn’t a whole lot RIGHT with it either – in that it wasn’t Christ-centered or God-exalting. In it’s intentions, it was an outreach to the community by the local churches – and that’s a very good thing. But as I looked around the festival that year, it was hard to see past the candy, the gluttony, the games and prizes, the greed, and the masses of little children running around gleefully oblivious to the attempt to provide a Halloween alternative. Looking through child’s eyes, it was a great big Halloween party. (Edited to add: I feel the need to clarify that there was nothing wrong with us PARTICIPATING in the event, and not a lot right with us PARTICIPATING in the event because our attending along with the community children and giving into the candy gluttony wasn’t God-exalting or setting a good example. The issue here was US more than the event. I’ve explained more in the comments.)
I also realized that it’s not anything that I can blame on anyone else. It’s MY responsibility to make our days and our holiday celebrations Christ-centered and God-exalting. But I knew that it’s really hard to keep a child’s attention when there’s a pile of candy waiting to be won like a pirate’s loot. Something needed to change, so for the past two years the kids and I have been working to establish our own Autumn and Halloween traditions.
For the past few years, we’ve put more effort into celebrating Autumn as a whole. God is sovereign over all seasons. He causes the trees and plants to die so that their seed may spread, hibernate over the winter and grow again in the spring. Not only is this symbolic of our lives in general (change is necessary, the “death” of some things is necessary for the life and growth of others) but this is also symbolic of the greatest sacrifice ever made. Jesus had to die (autumn), spend three days in the tomb (winter) in order to rise to life again (spring.) There are so many wonderful things to make, see, do, enjoy during this time of year. Many wonderful crafts to be made, activities to be done, places to go– devotionals ready at your fingertips.
The kids and I will bake cookies, do crafts, enjoy the great outdoors, and Halloween will come and go pretty much like another day. We’ll indulge in some candy, we’ll spend time with family. But we will not attend parties on that day, because for us, it’s not about Halloween itself. We all know that actions speak louder than words. Our actions and our words show what is in the heart. I want my actions and my words to show what I am celebrating, what I am truly worshiping. Not only on that day, but on every day. To that end, the Halloween “holiday” really has no true place there, you know?
You can read more about my “Aha! Moment” by reading what I wrote after the festival a few years ago.