Wednesday, October 21, 2009

handling halloween

I'm baaack....hopefully this post will start things off with a bang! 

Halloween is approaching and now that we have a baby we have been thinking about how we will handle this "holiday" in our house.  What follows are my thoughts so far on this day.

As a Christian parent, it is my desire to intentionally think and pray through the things that I allow Parks to do and not do.  I don't want to take away from his innocence or steal any joy from him, but I also don't want to expose him to evil things and make light of it.  It is from that perspective that I write this post, not to tell anyone what they should or shouldn't feel about Halloween.  Ideally, this will start a discussion about what other families do for Halloween and share what the Lord has put on their heart about this day.  I do believe that the Lord convicts us personally and what I may feel convicted of may not be what you feel convicted about.  

Halloween is a celebration of darkness.  Yes, there are parts of it that are harmless, like children dressing up as princesses and superheros and getting candy.  Perfectly harmless, perfectly fun.  However, the holiday itself is all about celebrating evil, fear and darkness.  There is simply no denying that.  You can do research and look into the pagan, satanic rituals and history that are the foundation of this holiday but you needn't look any further than your neighborhood to tell you that it's about darkness. If it's like mine, you see people putting out skeletons, witches, R.I.P gravestones, monsters, ghosts, spiderwebs, etc.  Quite frankly, it disgusts me and I hate seeing it.  I do not see any good that comes of celebrating these things.  As if we don't have enough death and evil in the world that causes us enough pain, why on earth would we make light of it and actually celebrate it?  I find it disturbing.

So the dilemma is, although part of Halloween can be harmless, the entire basis for the holiday is anything but harmless.  Knowing that, do I allow my child to participate in this dark holiday, even in an "innocent" way?  Another practical dilemma is even if I don't allow my child to dress in anything scary or I don't put up any scary decor around our house...they will certainly be exposed to those things while trick or treating.   No, I don't believe that completely sheltering our children from any brokenness or sin in the world is good for them.  But I also don't believe in unneccessarily exposing them to harmful and scary things at a very young age.  Small children can be terribly frightened by these monster and ghost masks kids wear and by the scary decorations people put out and they are too young to understand it's for "fun".  I do not want my child to have nightmares about evil things that I could have protected him from.

I know that many people just dress up, get candy, and that's that.  It's not something that they think too much about.  But as Christians,  I hope we will at least think more about this day and what it really stands for and prayerfully consider how or if at all we participate.  Scripture says, "Jesus is the Light of the world. His people do not walk in darkness. His perfect love casts out fear." (1 John 4:18) Do you see why it gives me concern that we celebrate a holiday that thrives on fear? 

Jackson and I are still praying through what we should do.  We have another year to really figure this out because thankfully, 11 month old babies don't ask where their costume is.  So, I'm not sure what we'll end up doing.  I don't want to be the crazy radical parent just for the sake of being radical but I also don't want to just blindly follow in the pattern of the world, which we all know is fallen.  I'm certainly not against kids dressing up in costumes and playing pretend, I'm just not sure I am ok with doing it in the name of Halloween. Thoughts? 


Anonymous said...

I also hate Halloween. However, I think if I lived in CVille, I'd take my kids onto the lawn (the kids always just look so cute and it seems pretty harmless!!) But... back to the real decision on Halloween, my parents never did Halloween (or Santa at Christmas, or the Easter bunny at Easter, for that matter). I remember as a kid, when other kids would ask about it, that I'd sometimes think my parents were making too big of a deal about it, but I also knew their reasoning (they clearly explained to us why we didn't celebrate Halloween or Santa). Looking back now, my sisters and I agree that we are thankful our parents valued and pointed to Christ through their decisions to not secularize various holidays. Some people may think that taking away those elements limits imagination and the playfulness of being a child, but I think my parents, who made these decisions with intention, did so well. We still cultivated that magical imagination that you want your kids to have - without compromising the truth. We haven't decided what we'll do with our kids yet. But thinking about my parents' decisions really gives me something to think about.

Specifically for Halloween, my parents always took us to a church party, where we played games to get candy, and only wore those cute costumes... Maybe we'll do that for a few years, until our kids can understand our reasoning behind Halloween. At that point, we might be able to let them go trick or treating, while still explaining they not-so-lovely elements about Halloween.

Anyway, just lots of thoughts!!

Gillian said...

In DC, at the National Zoo, this year a week before Halloween they are having tricker treating. I think for a kid tricker treating with zoo animals must be the end all. I honestly haven't thought much about the matter but I will be very interested to see what you two decide in the future. I do know I would never want my kids dressing up as skeletons or anything dark and gross.

Speaking of disgusting things and Halloween there was a man who committed suicide on his front porch. Neighbors thought he was just a halloween decoration and took photos of their children in his lap. How horrific and what dumb parents!,0,3558556.story

Emily said...

My parents took us to the All Saints Fair at Trinity in Charlottesville. It was a way for us to play games, dress up, and get candy, but the whole atmosphere behind the holiday was different. We couldn't dress up as evil things, and it made it fun, not evil at all. I totally understand what you are saying Mallory, and it is something I have been thinking about as well. I am going to take Adelyn to the Lawn this year, but I am not sure what we will do after this year. I am definitely not a fan of the holiday.

Laura Frazier said...

I love the dressing up of halloween! But the "dark side" is scary.

What we do up here (in the boonies) is drive from house to house, and since we do that we only go to family and friends houses. Since my family and friends don't think of halloween as a dark "holiday" then Tommi will not be exposed to that, which I am thankful for. So that might be an idea for Parks, he can dress up and get candy but only go to those houses that are all about the trick or treating and playful-ness of the holiday.

So halloween for us is just for kids to be able to dress up and have fun getting candy! No harm done!

I totally see your view on this can be a scary holiday!!!!

esther lee said...

I tend to find myself wanting to celebrate Fall and the changing of the seasons, not Halloween. I've never been all that big on dressing up myself but growing up I enjoyed the Fellowship found in church activities and time spent with my parents on Halloween. These festivities were usually called something else, too, like Fall Fest or Fun Fest or something other than Halloween. I don't have kids yet but imagine it will be tough trying to make the best decisions. A lot of the couples with young babies I know have taken their kids to a pumpkin patch (Hunt Club, Bergey's, etc) in their costumes and have had fun doing that. When kids get older (my sister's oldest is 5) there can be a creative merit to costumes, too. Vivian (the 5 year old) is obsessed with princesses but Noel has been encouraging her to open her mind and so she will be creating a bird costume this year. They're not going to spend money on a costume, it'll help to develop her creative skills and she'll get to wear it to the church activities. I'm kind of rambling. There's definitely a check in my spirit when it comes to WHAT Halloween is fundamentally celebrating and I think there are many other things we can celebrate instead : seasons, friends, family, etc all of which Christ can be found in.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

mallory said...

I've LOVED reading everyone's thoughts. All great alternatives to the traditional trick or treating. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with me and write such insightful comments! Keep them coming!

AdoptedbyGrace said...

I have been interested in your blog since I found it (not sure how!)and congratulate you on being a young person with convictions! It takes courage to take a Biblical stand on issues that you have been bold enough to tackle.
As far as Halloween, you are correct in pointing our the truths behind the holiday. It is wise, as you say, to prayerfully consider what is right for your child. With my own children we chose to let them trick or treat with friends and family; some years they had fun at church "fall festivals"; we just allowed them to be kids having fun with guidelines that did not contradict our Christian values. As they grew older we discussed why we did not celebrate the actual Halloween holiday - with the witches, ghosts etc. So, there are alternatives where our kids can be innocent kids having fun. I have my first grand baby (a year old)and I have pictures around my house as part of my fall decorations of his mommy at a young age dressed in a cute little costume helping to carve a pumpkin. It's priceless and I would not change it.

Jaime said...

I love your convictions Siesta! I loathe the darkness of Halloween. I am very easily scared. I have distinct memories of being terrified of ghosts as a small child. I reject all things dark and evil about Halloween. However, I love theatre and drama and costumes. We will take the Doodle trick-or-treating, but I will be very careful as to where and when.

California raisins for the 10 K?!?