Faith in Focus: Rethinking Halloween

Aside

I was 9 years old and in the 4th grade when I made my first costume for Halloween.  Because I had no money and I was an overly-creative child, I decided to be a “cleaning lady” – a la Carol Burnett.

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This was my favorite Halloween costume – because I made it, and I thought it was funny.  And as handy as it was to collect candy in my bucket, the mop made for more difficult trick-or-treating – in case you were wondering.

Growing up, Halloween was a fun holiday where kids dressed up and collected candy.  It was innocent, and we never dressed up as anything scary or gory – or sexually explicit – mostly because it never crossed our mind to do so.

I think Halloween has changed a lot over the last 20 years.  It doesn’t seem to be the holiday I remember from my childhood.  It seems to be more focused on the macabre, the dark, the hopeless.  I don’t remember my neighbors decorating their houses with demonic effigies, dismembered body parts, coffins, and bloodied weaponry.  I don’t remember women dressing up in a manner that blurred the line between cute costume and streetwalker.  Friends and family almost never bought entire costumes from the store – blowing their monthly budget on an something to disguise themselves for one night.

With that said, and as a mom, looking at Halloween from a Christian perspective, I have decided that it is a holiday we will not be celebrating in our home.  At least not in the way I’ve seen it “celebrated” in recent years.

So, what do I do for my children when it seems the rest of the world is trick-or-treating and decking their front lawns with tombstones?  How do I keep my kids from feeling alienated, but at the same time abstaining from the questionable practices of Halloween?

Trunk or Treat is the first thing that comes to mind.  Typically hosted by churches in lieu of the typical door-to-door candy-collecting, Trunk or Treat is basically a gathering of families in a large parking lot with decorated cars.  Kids visit each car for a treat.  It looks something like this:

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It isn’t necessarily always hosted by churches, either.  Local municipalities have started hosting Trunk or Treat nights for families who live in rural areas, who have strict curfew laws, or for other reasons.  However, keep in mind, if you are purposely trying to avoid the “scary” stuff, you may want to choose a Trunk or Treat hosted by a church.

So, it’s basically costumes and candy and fun… and depending on where the Trunk or Treat is hosted, there could also be other activities like music, food, entertainment, and so on.  Which also sounds a lot like the parties and fall festivals that also take place, in case a local Trunk or Treat isn’t happening.  That sounds like more fun than traipsing through a dark neighborhood worrying about whether or not someone’s porch light is on.

If you are seeking alternatives to Halloween, check with your local churches, homeschool groups, and municipalities to what’s available.  And if you can’t find something in your area, take the lead and set something up!  Host a Fall Festival or Harvest Party at your house.  Get a few friends and neighbors together to do your own Trunk or Treat… or, better yet, encourage your church/youth group/municipality to host one for the community.  You may discover that other parents are seeking alternatives, too!

I Didn’t Want to Be Brave.

Last year at MOPS, I was A Beautiful Mess – and it was perfect. Feeling that it was okay to be a messy new mom, and still be beautiful – if maybe only in God’s eyes most days – was terrific.  We had lots of fun, untidy activities where we were free to be raw and real and sloppy.  It was probably the best introduction to MOPS a new mom could ask for.

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Then, at the end of last year’s session, they announced this year’s theme: Be You, Bravely.

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Oh boy.

I didn’t like the idea of being brave. On purpose, that is. I had already gotten pretty real with the ladies at my MOPS table – we’d had a few good ugly cries together and I thought it was brave of me to show that side of myself.  I don’t usually cry in front of others.  Plus, I was brand-shiny-new to this whole motherhood thing – which is brave, in and of itself, too.

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But now I’d have to be brave – on purpose? As a theme?  In my life?

I decided that I had all summer to stew over it and so I let it go.

Until the end of the summer came and it was time to register for MOPS again.

And there it was: Be You, Bravely.

I did not want to be brave. I knew that I would be asked to try new things, dig deep into myself, take a good look at my life, analyze.  Can’t I just have the safety of my sofa and yoga pants?

Bravery, to me, is bold. It is taking a stand, speaking up, and not being concerned about what others think.  In my mind, bravery looks big, strong, and risky.  It’s not always safe, and sometimes, it might be life threatening.  And I felt like some of the decisions I’d been making all along were “brave” already.

Then I thought, “Well, I could just not participate in the activities.” And then quickly recognized how ridiculous that was.  How would I realize the fullness of the fellowship I could have with my MOPS moms if I was holding back?  I would be cheating myself, and them.  And besides, maybe a new adventure or two would be good for me…

So, instead of backing down, I’m meeting bravery head on.  And it has occurred to me that bravery wears many different hats:

What if bravery isn’t about being bold, but being humble? What if bravery isn’t always taking a stand, but stepping back?  How would it feel if bravery was more about listening than speaking my mind, and being concerned about what God thought of me, instead of everyone else?  And maybe bravery is big, and strong, and risky because God created it that way – and what He creates is ultimately good.  And maybe being brave isn’t safe (socially or emotionally), but I’m always safe with the Lord.  And as far as “life threatening” goes… well, I need to lose this life to gain my new life in Christ, right?

The New Life In Christ

Right.

And the truth is, I can’t wait to see what happens when I partner with God to be me, bravely.