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.

carol burnette cleaning lady

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!

‘Tis the Season

busy mom

Just when I started to think I had to “do it all” this year because it’s “Baby’s First Christmas” … and we’ve gotta Make ALL the Memories (!) (oh-my-God-it’s-snowing-put-on-the-snow-gear-where’s-the-camera-get-outside-right-now-don’t-slip-and-maim-yourself-let’s-get-this-done-before-naptime-wait-her-hat-doesn’t-fit-oh-gawd-the-dogs-just-tracked-in-a-crapton-of-snow-c’mon-let’s-make-memories-yayyyyy) …and inevitably I’ve started to get just a little nervous/anxious/worked up/loud/Leona Helmsley about it…

I read this:

To The Mamas of Littles During the Holidays

It is just what I needed to read – and if you’re a mom of little ones, you need to read this, too.

Now, all is right with the universe, there are sugarplums dancing, and my feet are up with wine in my hand.  Because, I’m not going to go batcrap crazy this year and push myself so far that I miss it.

I don’t want to miss it.

“It” being the most important parts of Christmas – those moments with family and friends, specifically, my husband and daughter.  And I don’t need to festoon each moment with something from Pinterest.

I started on my simple Christmas journey a few weeks ago when I decided that not every single Christmas decoration I own has to be displayed this year (including the craptastic 6 foot tree that I still have from college that fell over last year and broke some of my favorite ornaments, sending me – at the time pregnant, emotional – into a complete “I Hate Christmas” tailspin).

No, I don’t have to go overboard to be overjoyed.  A few twinkly lights here and there, a handful of small Christmas trees, a wreath, some music.  There will always be music.

It’s going to be a beautiful Christmas, because we are just going to be.

White Friday (my un-black Friday)

It’s gotten a little ridiculous, folks.

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I mean, don’t you think so?

All of this craziness for stuff?

We really don’t need more stuff.

hoarding

The truth is, we need more time with family, friends, and maybe reusing, re-purposing, and recycling the things we already have.

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Ok, so it’s not fair of me to tell you that you should be doing crafts, but I think you can agree that we really don’t need more stuff.

I went shopping on Black Friday about 4 years ago and it was awful.  Admittedly, I didn’t start out at 4 in the morning, but I did get out the door around 9.  I managed to shop at about 5 different stores and bought pretty much, well… nothing.  I think I may have bought a pair of cute fuzzy socks for myself, a shirt for Chris, and some log-cabin-y items for my kitchen.  I think I may have also scored a couple of good deals on wrapping paper and craft supplies.

But, here’s the thing:  I didn’t get home until 9 pm.

And I’m not sure I saved enough money to justify being out all day, eating practically nothing (an Auntie Anne pretzel is really nothing, when you think about it), and not spending some quality couch-time with my husband (something I would give a limb for nowadays).

AND… I still had to go out multiple times over the following weeks to complete my Christmas shopping anyway.

So, I stopped shopping on Black Friday.  And I did it just in time, too.

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This is what it’s come to?  People bolting up from their Thanksgiving dinner to rush out to buy more stuff?  Geez.

“Grandma, that was a great meal, but you know what’s greater?  Getting a bunch of new toys for my bratty kid who doesn’t even play with the toys he/she already has!  Thanksloveyoubye!”

And don’t tell me y’all weren’t drinking some wine with that turkey and then decided to DRIVE.

drunk turkey

Anyway, I now spend Black Friday at home.  I call it “White Friday,” because I spend the day cleaning my house.  It doesn’t sound like a ton of fun, but for me, it kind of is.  I’m in my pajamas, I’m eating turkey day leftovers, and my husband is around helping.  We put on Christmas music, get silly, and have a good time.

I think this is a far better choice.

Maybe you shop on Black Friday because perhaps you don’t have family around (or you can’t stand your family).  Or, maybe it has become a “tradition” to shop on Black Friday.  Well, that’s fine, but consider this:  what about the people who work at the stores?  Is it possible that they have families and they don’t want to be working?  Is it possible that they work anyway because we have a crappy economy, they don’t want to lose their job, and because of crazy-Black-Friday-shoppers, they MUST work?

Maybe it’s not about Black Friday, but maybe just how CRAZY things have become… like the stores opening right after Thanksgiving dinner?  And the fact that people are trampling each other, fighting, shooting, stabbing… all for… stuff?  What happened to “peace on earth and good will towards men” and women/children/retail workers?

Here’s the thing:  if no one showed up on Black Friday (or on Thanksgiving Thursday), the stores wouldn’t be open.  It’s consumer supply-and-demand, folks.

If you must shop this weekend, consider doing so on Small Business Saturday.  Go downtown, visit a local small business (no, this does NOT include your “local” Walmart) and support their business.

I’m not here to be the judge and jury of Black Friday shoppers.  Really, it’s none of my business how you spend your Thanksgiving or Black Friday.  But I do ask this:  if you are going to shop on Black Friday, at least be kind to others – especially those working this weekend.

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Happy Holidays!

My Love Affair with Fall

Warning:  this is a completely superfluous blog post about Fall.  There is no real substantive information here, just a little “getaway” from whatever responsibilities you are working on today.  We’ll call it, “Your 5 Minute Autumn Appreciation Break.”

As a kid, Summer was my favorite season, naturally.  It was pure freedom bliss and no one was going to change my mind about that.  It was green grass and slip ‘n’ slides and barbecues and the beach and bike rides and lightning bugs and every other wonderful summer thing.

And then Fall would start to creep in.  I’d notice it right around the end of August when the sun started to shift a little bit in the afternoon sky.  I would overhear mom and dad’s hushed chatter about “back to school shopping” and “new clothes” and ohmygod NOOO!

This wasn’t me. But it’s an accurate depiction of my emotions.

I hated Fall.

And for many years, even into adulthood, Summer was still my favorite season.  Until this year.

I have to say that I’ve fallen out of love with Summer.  Don’t get me wrong, Summer – let’s be friends, ok?  It’s not you, it’s me.  Well, actually, it is sort of you… 

This summer was rough.  It was hot and buggy and I was pregnant (still am, actually) – and pregnancy + excessive heat + many bugs = not a happy Summer.  I spent a great deal of time indoors and that makes me very sad, considering how much I love being outside.  Summer wore out its welcome this year, and I am more than happy to usher in my new love interest:  Fall.

Ah, Fall… how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways:

1.  Your lovely weather – it’s not hot, not cold, it’s just right.  You require a light sweater in the early mornings and late evenings, but permit sweaterless fashion during the day.  You are so flexible!  I can wear closed or open toe shoes – long pants or capris – long sleeves or sleeveless… did I mention how superfluous this blog entry would be?

 

2.  Your harvest bounty – it’s full of beautiful things like gourds, pumpkins, late tomatoes, apples, cranberries, and pears.  You are a culinary delight, Fall.  You are the only time of year I truly enjoy cooking.

3.  Your artistry – it’s all over the trees, flowers, bushes, and fields.  You paint everything in my favorite colors:  red, orange, yellow, green, purple!  For a crafty, interior-designer-wannabe like me, you are my muse.

4.  The way you make me feel.  Fall, you bring out the lover in me.  You inspire me to take long walks, snuggle on the couch, build bonfires, go camping, light candles.  If I didn’t know any better, Fall, I would think you’re trying to get me into bed.  Oh wait, yes, I enjoy that this time of year, too!  Sleeping is so much better with the windows open.

This has nothing to do with romance or sleeping, I just really like the picture.

5.  I realize I’ve actually loved you for a long time, Fall.  It was just difficult breaking it off with Summer.  He and I have been close for many, many years and it was tough to realize my love affair with him has actually been just a good acquaintanceship.

I know it’s not technically Fall by means of Mother Nature or the calendar, but I can’t help but celebrate.  The weather is changing, kids are back in school, and the smell of cinnamon is everywhere.  I used to wait until my wedding anniversary to decorate for Fall (which is September 25th, in case you want to send a card), but this year, I’m breaking my rule and starting today.  I’m busting out my Fall décor and I’m not looking back!  I will sip Chai tea all day and shamelessly eat as much Ivin’s Spiced Wafers as I want!  I will book my personal calendar with as many Fall-related events and festivals as I possibly can, and I will bake as many apply, pear-ish, pumpkiny, cinnamon’d things I can possibly handle between now and Thanksgiving.

Ah, Fall, I know our affair is fleeting.  I know that in a couple of short months you will turn a cold shoulder to me and I will be forced to rekindle a romance with Winter.  But that’s okay – Winter and I have been cool (ha, get it? cool?) since I discovered skiing and Winter hiking.  Plus, I’ll be preoccupied with my baby.  So, it’s okay, Fall.  You’ll be back.

Valentine’s Miscellany

I love Valentine’s Day.  I used to hate it.  But now I love Valentine’s Day for a reason that you might not expect.  I love the colors.

The red-pink-white combo is delicious to me.  I want to eat it and decorate with it and wear it and make things with it. 

And yes, I know how “girly” this post is, and how completely unnecessary it is for me to discuss Valentine’s Day colors, but look how pretty…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And no, I haven’t gone all hog wild and decorated my whole house in red, pink, and white hearts and flowers.

I’m too exhausted from the gratuitous Christmas decorating I do every year that takes me a week to put up, and 3 days to take down.  By the time Valentine’s Day rolls around, I barely get a heart-shaped wreath on my front door.

Not my front door. But this is pretty, no?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think that the colors of Valentine’s Day remind me of warmer, sunnier, more colorful days soon to come. 

Or, is it that I’m in love?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Either way, it’s a pretty good holiday.

One more… I just couldn’t resist.

This is a craft that I will be featuring here soon. Check back often!