Every year October 31 present a dilemma to many Christian parents. Halloween or No? I too wrestle with the whole thing...not wanting to take part in celebrating anything evil, but at the same time seeing the fun of dressing up and getting candy. (I mean, really...how can that NOT be fun?!?!) As a kid it was always frustrating to me to ride the wave of yes or no, evil or permissable...and am I going to be allowed to participate in the school Halloween party??
Well, here's where we're coming down on the whole thing. First of all, I make very clear to my kids that no matter what we do, we will NOT be celebrating, playing or portraying anything evil, witches, ghosts or death (or anything that represents any of those things). I know many people thing of those things as included in the 'harmless fun'. I do draw a definite line there. I believe the spiritual realm is very real, and I know there are real witches and real evil spirits, and so that's where my firm NO lies...we aren't doing anything to welcome any of that into our family, home or life. However, if you look into the history of this fall holiday, it's really a mixed bag of pagan and yes, 'christian' traditions...some of which are bad, some (that are certainly lost and forgotten) actually were good. So, let's not get too carried away with jumping on the 'pagan' bandwagon...unless you're also ready to get rid of your Christmas tree!! But I digress... If you'd like to read a good, balanced article on the issue, go here.
Now, that being said, I am totally in favor of coming up with creative costume ideas and letting lots of people see us in our 'get-ups', and getting to see all their creative outfits and having fun and amassing sugary-sweetness. (Oh, I know...all you healthy moms out there are horrified. Oh, well.) I'm also in favor of NOT acting all 'holier-than-thou' toward other families in our community and not being willing to welcome them or give them a treat. So, our answer is to light up our yard and have a big 'ol party. If you are familiar with "Light Up the Night" (a.k.a., Light the Night, Light In the Night, etc....depending what logo you're going with, but all the same concept) it's basically an opportunity to throw a party, bless people with free food, games and prizes, and maybe even get to share the gospel. Every year our church plans this event, and hands out hot dogs, popcorn, drinks, and candy...as well as some kids tracts and comic books (to anyone who wants them) that share the Good News of Jesus' love for us and plan for salvation. We are never pushy about anything...we just pray ahead of time and throughout the evening for divine appointments to be able to bless someone or share an encouraging word with them. We want to be a safe and fun place for kids to hang out and play, and adults to chat and maybe meet some new neighbors or friends. It's not a time of trying to 'recruit' people for our church or trying to corner anyone to give them a 'religious' spiel. Nope...just plain old meeting people, having fun and blessing our communities.
It can be a hard call for people of faith to make. We've all grown up hearing and being taught different viewpoints on this holiday. I think the best policy is to, first of all, commit to remaining non-judgemental of any brothers or sisters who might come out differently than ourselves on the decisions we make about how to handle it. Secondly, I see it as a great opportunity to, with my family, sort out all the facts and myths surrounding the day; I thought it was very interesting to find there was quite a mixture of christian and pagan traditions...and was reminded that some very similar mixtures can also be seen in Christmas and Easter. However, on those days, our full participation and shift of focus has been able to override the 'bad' and the light has, for the most part, pushed out the darkness. Hmmm...interesting thought. Could the same thing happen on October 31st. Could we choose to stand in the face of darkness and celebrate light? I think so!!
*As a side note, I just wanted to mention how pleased I am with how our local public school is handling Halloween celebrations. They are having a non-Halloween-related laser show assembly in the afternoon on Friday - just for fun. Then, Friday night they are doing a 'trunk-or-treat' where kids will come dressed up and participate in a parade, parents will decorate their trunks and fill them with treats for the kids to stop and collect, and then they will have a Halloween laser show. But all those activities are after school hours and completely optional. I think it's a great way to handle not offending or 'forcing' anyone who doesn't wish to participate in Halloween (or making them uncomfortable for having to refuse), while still providing something for those who do, and something fun for everyone...no matter your belief!