Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Decisions

There are a few houses on our block that are decorated for Halloween, and ours was not one of them - until last Saturday. While I was inside the house, the neighbor kids descended upon our front yard and decided that our house needed to be decorated too. Unbeknownst to me, 5 neighbor kids (as well as my own), started bringing their leftover decorations to my front yard and they went to town.  I heard laughter and fun, and just assumed that they were playing as usual. When I went to check on them, I found our entire front yard and porch thoroughly decorated for Halloween, with spider webs slung everywhere, fake spiders hanging, and even Halloween stickers all over our front bannister.  I did not have the heart to stop them.  Micah ran inside and pulled out ALL of our craft supplies, and every child sprawled out on our front sidewalk and started cutting and coloring pictures of bats, spider-webs, and even vampires. 

At that point, I saw three options in front of me:

Option 1 - I could sit them all down in a circle and start to explain the perils of Halloween, and tell them all why we don't celebrate that holiday (well, we don't "celebrate" it, but we do go trick-or-treating, which some would say is celebrating, but we don't say that). Yes, I could have taken that moment to evangelize these 5, 6, and 7 year olds and tell them why we are different.

Option 2 - I could continue to let the kids decorate our house, accepting the fact that memories were being made and the kids were having a blast, and then tear down the decorations later.

Option 3- the same as Option 2, but I could leave the decorations up.

I chose Option 3.  I know it is not the decision many of my friends would have made.  I know it is a bit confusing to some that the "pastor's house" is decorated for Halloween.  And I know that some would feel that I made the wrong decision.  But I feel that this decision not only created a fun day for all of these kids, but it is creating conversations as well.  I honestly feel like the kids would have been hurt and confused if I would have torn down the decorations that they had worked so hard on.  Right now I am more concerned with their hearts than their actions (actions that weren't bad anyway, but would be interpreted that way if I tore everything down).

So what's the big deal anyway?  Well, to some this isn't a big deal at all. But to others, this is a huge deal because we could be seen as supporting Halloween and celebrating it.  Only we're not doing that.  I admit, I too am confused by the houses that have gory decorations and then throw a big cross on their front yard at Christmas-time.  So, I never wanted to confuse anyone. We do not glorify evil, and we do not celebrate Halloween. But we do accept that day as a normal event in our culture that can be turned into something good.

When I was growing up and my dad was a pastor, I remember going to church and watching videos about the history of Halloween and the reason we should not partake in any of its festivities. But I also have memories of dressing up as Anne of Green Gables, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Pippy Longstocking, and more, and going to Harvest Parties and even trick-or-treating. Those are some of my very favorite memories growing up.  Do I feel like participating in that way somehow affected me spiritually and caused me to not be as close to God? No, not at all.  Actually, those were alternatives that allowed me to have fun, stay safe, and be with my friends.

So, this year you will find us out trick-or-treating with our kids, and you will find us with our light on, passing out candy. Not because of what the holiday meant in the past, but because of what it means for us as a family today.  We can still be a light in the darkness, and we want our home to be a welcoming place to everyone, at anytime, especially if they're walking up to our door!  What a great opportunity to meet our neighbors and have fun. 

That is why we do participate in Halloween. However, I realize that many of my friends may make an entirely different choice, and I understand why and respect that. But please don't demonize (no pun intended) those of us who do choose to turn our light on and open our doors to trick-or-treaters, or even go out and mingle with them.  Even if there is no motive to evangelize, but just simply to have fun, I think that is okay too- but that is just my personal opinion. What I do not feel good about is other believers who make us feel badly for our choice, because of a personal choice they have made.  It reminds me of the whole public school debate (those who say we should not put our children in public school because we are indoctrinating them with worldly beliefs and exposing them to certain things).  I don't subscribe to that logic either.

God has called us to be the light of the world, not hide the light inside of houses, or turn the light off when things get uncomfortable (and pretend we're not home).  Just my two cents. 

So, if you're out trick-or-treating this year, we'll leave the light on for you.  We're the house with all the spider webs, pictures in the window, and stickers on the bannister.  And we might even have a pumpkin carved with a big cross in it :)

1 comment:

  1. Oh girl, I hear you on every word! I really dislike Halloween. In fact we went to a super conservative church when I was really little and I never even trick or treated until high school!! I am just sensitive to "dark" stuff, I hate scary movies! But my kids aren't as sheltered as I was and are more into it. I gave in to the "spider webs" mostly because the bags were less than $2 and I had no good reason to tell my daughter no! She put them up all by herself and that is kinda cute :) Ella likes the scary costumes and we finally agreed on a decent costume that has a somewhat scary mask, but she is only allowed to wear it when little kids aren't around who might be scared. If I fight it--it will just encourage her more. And I'd rather these things be conversation pieces then fights. Every family is different and has to make the decisions right for them--and I would have done the same thing.