So what do you think about Halloween?
I received an email this week from a very conservative group whose mission is to restore the Christian family culture one home at a time. Its message was that there are 5 truly scary things that you can do this Halloween, one of them being to not skip Halloween celebrations. The opinion communicated was that Halloween was conceived in evil and has remained a celebration that uses children to promote a fascination with superstitious fear; therefore, it is our duty to skip the traditional holiday festivities. (It does give alternatives, such as celebrating Reformation Day.)
When we moved from the south to the northeast, we came with many values to which we were very committed. The avoidance of Halloween was one of them. We didn’t celebrate Halloween, nor did we watch much mainstream media during that time period because we knew we’d encounter all kinds of dark imagery and scary scenes. Our kids were much younger at the time, and it was very important to guard their hearts from scary images that would trouble their minds. It also was easy to dismiss a cultural mainstay such as Halloween by simply explaining that we don’t celebrate it.
When we moved onto our street in the northeast, we were quickly informed that this community took Halloween seriously. It wasn’t the darkness and evil history of the holiday that they celebrated. It wasn’t the costumes and pumpkin carving that they took seriously.
What this group of people took seriously was making this holiday an opportunity to love on the kids from the projects that are 3 blocks from our homes.
It was the opportunity to welcome kids and their parents from the neighboring streets that might not otherwise ever step foot on our properties.
It was the opportunity to take one more event to cultivate fellowship within the neighbors that sat on their front porches the whole evening, often times straying from their stoops to sit and visit with friends on other stoops.
My husband and I had to make a big decision. Do we take part in this celebration that had been so easy to dismiss before? It might be difficult to do because it came into conflict with our present value system – but if we didn’t, we’d miss out on an opportunity to strengthen relationships within our inner-city neighborhood and to join with our amazing neighbors as they celebrated our community.
It wasn’t that this group of people didn’t celebrate other holidays. They equally valued and honored all cultures, and they made a habit of celebrating Easter with the larger neighborhood, having fall festivals, conducting soccer camps, sponsoring educational summer programs, etc. All of these celebrations we quickly became a part of with them. Halloween had just become one more opportunity to live out the values of generosity, openness to others, and community among all neighbors.
Hadn’t we moved from our home in the south to be a part of such things as these values?
The first year, we sat on our porch and shared candy with the huge traffic of kids as they passed by. We roamed from home to home visiting with other neighbors who were out doing the same. Our kids stayed with us, not in costume, but observing the way that a heart to love can transform something evil and make it beautiful.
As the years have gone by and our kids have gotten older, we still celebrate with our neighbors this opportunity to reach out lovingly to our fellow neighbors. You might find our kids in costume, and you will see pumpkins carved on our stoop. You will definitely see a huge supply of candy being distributed to the variety of kids in our area.
The last thing I want to do is to raise kids who blindly fall into every cultural tradition without applying thought and value to their decisions. But along the same vein, one of the last things I want to do is to raise kids who shy away from opportunities to reach out to people because they value their traditions more than people.
To the organization I referenced earlier, Halloween is a clear-cut issue: it is clearly evil and is to be avoided. To me, it is an issue that should be handled with prayer and thoughtfulness. It should be weighed with the scale of love, and within a greater context of community outreach.
So, what do you think about Halloween?